. Earth Science News .

Australian bushfire ravages historic house
by Staff Writers
Perth, Australia (AFP) Nov 25, 2011

Cooler weather helped firefighters Friday as they battled an unpredictable blaze which has destroyed at least 37 properties, including a historic house.

Scores of residents were evacuated from communities near the tourist township of Margaret River, a coastal area known for its wines in Western Australia, as flames soared as high as 30 metres (100 feet) Thursday.

"Twenty-eight houses and nine chalets, including the historic Wallcliffe House area, have been lost to the fire. Properties have been burnt or damaged at Prevelly, Gnarabup and Redgate," the government said in a fire warning.

The full extent of damage from the blaze, which was sparked by embers from a controlled burn-off in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park some 280 kilometres (170 miles) south of Perth, is not yet known.

But the two-storey stone Wallcliffe House, built close to Prevelly Beach in 1865, was burnt through. No lives have been lost.

"The fire threat remains and may worsen at any time and people in this area still need to have their bushfire survival plan in action," the Department of Environment and Conservation said in its warning.

Fire incident controller Roger Armstrong said firefighters were downcast they had lost some homes, as he praised their work in saving other residences in terrible conditions.

"We threw everything we had into Prevelly and we fought pretty hard," he told journalists.

Friday's milder conditions had helped firefighters strengthen boundaries around the fire and there were no homes presently at risk.

"Today's weather is really quite mild, it's in our favour," he said.

"It's not right to say it's under control... so obviously it's not fully contained."

Authorities estimate the blaze has burned about 3,177 hectares (7,850 square miles), forced hundreds of residents and holidaymakers from homes, caravan parks and holiday accommodation and prompted some road closures.

As anger at how a controlled fire could end up destroying people's homes mounted, locals recounted how they were forced to cling beneath a jetty at Prevelly Beach as flames metres-high were burning on the sand.

"All 30 of us huddled underneath the jetty as the fire was raging on the dunes just above us," Joel Hodgson told the ABC.

Firefighter Laurie Drage, who helped adults and children stranded in the water as the blaze raged over the beach said: "It went right over the top of us, like a sheet being thrown over a bed."

"It was like a herd of bulls. It jumped the carpark, it was just amazingly wicked, it was like flying into hell," he told Australian news agency AAP.

Western Australia's environment minister Bill Marmion apologised to those who had lost their homes as he toured the area Friday, saying it was unfortunate an operation to burn off combustible material sparked the blaze.

"I'm happy to apologise for what went wrong," Marmion said.

"My heart goes out to those people who lost a house. If I lost a house I'd feel very emotionally upset and indeed I might have anger against the minister and anyone who might have lighted the fire."

Police Commissioner and State Emergency Coordinator Karl O'Callaghan said the fire was a bad start to the southern hemisphere summer.

"The catastrophic fire conditions that we have seen... it's been a difficult start to the season," he told reporters.

Related Links
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

Fire-hit Australia now faces floods
Sydney (AFP) Nov 27, 2011 - Thousands of Australians were trapped Sunday by rising east coast floodwaters which left one child dead, even as residents in the country's west began returning to their homes after horror wildfires.

Officials said the northern New South Wales town of Wee Waa, 570 kilometres (355 miles) from Sydney, would be cut off for up to one week by the flooding, which has seen several rivers in the state overflow.

The township of 1,800 will only be accessible by boat and helicopter and state emergency authorities said they were working to replenish food supplies.

Evacuations were also underway at nearby Moree, where 60 homes were expected to be cut off as floodwaters reached their peak, while some 150 rural properties in the region were already isolated.

"I've just flown over the area in the chopper and it's very extensive, the amount of flooding," regional emergency controller Steve Martin told ABC Radio.

"The cross-country water that's going there... it's created an inland sea and it's quite spectacular when you're in the air, but not so happy for the people on the ground."

More than 900 people had called for emergency help and 29 people were rescued from the floodwaters, which on Saturday claimed the life of a three-year-old boy who was swept into a surging storm-water drain.

Narrabri mayor Robyn Faber said it was a "cruel blow" for the region's farmers, who had been in the middle of a bumper wheat harvest.

The weather bureau has forecast heavy rains in northeastern Australia in coming months due to a La Nina pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which is usually associated with extreme rainfall in Australia and Asia.

It is not expected to be as bad as flooding earlier this year which killed dozens of people and swamped vast tracts of the region including the city of Brisbane, which is home to some two million people.

More than 30,000 homes were inundated when the Brisbane River broke its banks, bringing Australia's third-largest city to a standstill for several days in its worst deluge in more than a century.

As the east grappled with flooding, residents on the nation's wildfire-ravaged west coast began returning to their homes after flames ripped through the scenic Margaret River region, destroying dozens of buildings.

"We went in there and got what was left," one resident, Leif Mulik, told The West Australian newspaper.

The fire, ignited on Wednesday by an ember from an earlier controlled burn-off, forced hundreds of people to abandon their homes.

It was still burning Sunday but officials said the fire "remains within containment lines and weather conditions are favourable".


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

UC Aerial Robot System Can Save Firefighter Lives
Cincinnati OH (SPX) Nov 11, 2011
Wildfires kill and, too often, fatalities are caused by a lack of situational awareness, said Kelly Cohen. Timely information can prevent wildfire deaths, especially among first responders, said Cohen, associate professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Cincinnati. Cohen supervises a project known as SIERRA (Surveillance for Intelligent Emergency Res ... read more

Thai minister survives flood censure vote

Japan nuclear plant director sick: company

Misery lingers for Bangkok's 'forgotten' flood victims

Central America storms caused $2 bln in damage

Carbon nanotube forest camouflages 3d objects

Recycle this: Bolivian turns waste into high fashion

The impending revolution of low-power quantum computers

Butterfly wings inspire design of water-repellent surface

Plan for crucial Australian rivers draws anger

EBRD grants 123-million-euro loan for Croatia hydro station

Water doesn't have to freeze until minus 55 Fahrenheit

Australia plans world's biggest marine protection zone

Study: Arctic ice melting 'unprecedented'

Iceland says no to Chinese tycoon's land purchase: ministry

Carbon cycling was much smaller during last ice age than in today's climate

Gamburtsev Mountains enigma unraveled in East Antarctica

China govt under fire over new food bacteria rule

Japan's rice farmers mull TPP future

Climate set to worsen food crises: Oxfam

Global commission charts pathway for achieving food security in face of climate change

Faroe Islands hit by hurricane

Thailand counts cost of monster floods

Quakes hit Japan

Hurricane Kenneth becomes late-season record-breaking major hurricane

French soldiers join hunt for hostages seized in Mali

South Sudan in fresh battle to disarm civilians

Gambia's Jammeh headed for landslide poll win

S.Africa elite police mulling Zuma aide charges on newspaper

New evidence of interhuman aggression and human induced trauma 126,000 years ago

Mimicking the brain, in silicon

Moderate drinking and cardiovascular health: here comes the beer

Is a stranger genetically wired to be trustworthy? You'll know in 20 seconds


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement