Travelling south from Kalbarri, heading to Perth, we had been following a storm cell for some time. Eventually it allowed us to catch up and experience the strong winds and rain. The temperatures plummeted from the low to mid 30’s we had been experiencing, dropping down to the low 20’s as we entered Leeman.
Between Leeman and Jurien Bay we discovered that Indian Ocean Drive was closed up ahead and we were diverted onto the Brand Highway. We had been watching a smoke stack in the distance and as we travelled onwards it grew in magnitude.
The smokestack seemed to interact with the existing cloud formations and dominated the skyline even as we traveled on southwards.
Apparently the fire was started by a lightning strike and at the time of writing was burning out of control. The DFES issued a Bushfire Emergency Warning
I guess when you choose to live in this kind of environment you accept that there are risks. You also accept that others may have to put themselves at risk on your behalf when the worst happens.
One can only hope that, on this occasion, nobody is injured or loses their life.
For the second time in only a couple of weeks we have had a significant fire fairly close to us. This time the fire was just 2.3km away and the smoke from the fire was being blown just slightly west of us. Multiple fire fighting aircraft were buzzing directly overhead.
Here are some photos that I took this afternoon.
According to the DFES, more than fifty career Fire and Rescue Service and Bush Fire Service firefighters from six brigades were on the scene. They were supported by three helicopters and two bi-plane water bombers
This area is known as Forest Lakes. Most of the housing estates incorporate ponds and lakes.
The water bombers, at least the helicopters, make good use of nearby lakes to replenish their tanks.
Please excuse the play on words. It may be Christmas but, down here in Oz, it is the height of summer, in fact Monday was the longest day. Being the longest day may have a different meaning for the various folks involved in fighting the bush fires raging across the country. With temperatures up in the mid to high thirties these folks will be sweltering dressed in their safety gear while they fight to close down these fires.
The wind was blowing the smoke directly over our heads and down into the garden along with ash from the fire. As soon as we noticed the ash, Steve had the air-con turned off. Apparently fires can be transferred by hot embers being sucked into the air-con and entering the roof space.
Soon there were more aircraft in the skies overhead. A helicopter from Channel 7 News was sat up high, make slow circuits round the site of the fire. This was then joined by a small biplane, assumed to be a scout for the emergency services. Through the tree lines I saw at least two of the “attack” aircraft heading into the fire zone. Shortly after, two helicopters entered the fray.
These aircraft are Bell 214B-1 operated by McDermot Aviation. They carry water in “the ‘Tsunami” Belly Tank” slung between the skids. You can also see the “elephants trunk” hanging below, which they can dip in any nearby water source and use to refill the tank.
The two choppers were making regular circuits, flying off to refill, then returning to douse the fire. Out of site from my viewing point I assume there were many fire fighters active on the ground. I could hear sirens for the emergency service vehicles from my location.
Later in the evening you wouldn’t have known that there had been a fire. The skies were totally clear of any smoke from either of the bush-fires, although they were still the subject of active alerts.
Thankfully, according to the local news, nobody was harmed in either incident. Though, some property was lost to the fires.
This is, apparently, the closest fire to their home that my daughter and her husband have experienced. Lets hope there are no more but, with the temperatures set to rise in the next two days, we won’t be holding our breath.
There is also a suspicion that at least one of these fires was started deliberately. Given the monetary cost, and the potential risk to human life, should either case be found to be arson then the full weight of the legal system should be brought to bear.