sourceNSW bushfires destroy more than 250 homes in a week as RFS warns number will rise wrote: NSW bushfires destroy more than 250 homes in a week as RFS warns number will rise
By Lily Mayers
Updated Fri 15 Nov 2019, 3:21pm
More than 250 homes have been destroyedby bushfires in the last week in northern New South Wales, the Rural
Fire Service (RFS) has confirmed,and the figure is set to rise.
259 homes were razed, 87 homes were damaged and almost 500 outbuildings were destroyed.
Firefighters managed to save more than 2,000 buildings in direct fire areas.
The RFS will continue to assess the level of devastation to communities in NSW's Mid-North coast, where the blazes burnt
most intensely in the past week.
Early estimates suggested the worst-hit region is in Glen Innes, where at least half the properties were confirmed to have
been damaged or destroyed.
Many of the properties assessed in Nambucca and Walcha appeared to be uninhabitable due to fire damage.
NSW bushfires have claimed four lives this week and burned through at least one million hectares of land.
During this year's entire early bush fire season, 370 homes have been destroyed across the state.
Building Impact Assessment teams are continuing their investigations of impacted properties and it is expected these
numbers will change as crews reach more remote areas.
Almost 60 bush or grass fires are currently burning across the state, with more than half not yet contained.
As of Thursday morning, five fires remain at the Watch and Act alert level: Carrai East, Gospers Mountain, Kian Road,
Liberation Trail, Myall Creek Road and Bora Ridge.
Total fire bans were reissued as a number of regions faced another day of dangerous fire conditions.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said widespread very high and severe danger ratings were dominating
throughout Greater Sydney and the central west, right up to the Queensland border.
"This sustained, hot, dry absence of rainweather pattern continues to influence New South Wales and drive so much of
this fire behaviour across a landscape," he said.
"Another long, difficult day for firefighters and everyone affected by these fires."
More gusty western winds are predicted, with gusting as high as 70 kilometres per hour over the Blue Mountains driving
up the fire danger once again.
Locals in the Blue Mountains region and in areas surrounding the Gospers Mountain fire must monitor conditions.
The RFS is also investigating several suspicious blazes in NSW that may have been lit by arsonists.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said firefighters had strong reactions to reports of people intentionally lighting blazes.
"I think like the rest of society … our firefighters, they get angered by it, they get disappointed by it," he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said anyone who deliberately lit a fire would face the "full force of the law" and that the punishment for arson exceeded 10 years in prison.
Local RFS brigades have been accepting donations to help with the emergency response and community service efforts in incidences like resident displacement.
The Salvation Army launched a disaster appeal to support communities affected by the devastating bushfires in NSW and Qld. They are hoping to raise $3 million in the appeal.
We also have another 50+ fires raging in Queensland, and all in all it's a nasty period that I'm surprised no one's put up a thread about yet. We're at at least 1.5 million hectares gone and 4 dead, and it's only going to get worse as the fire season is forecast to last until at least Christmas this year. So, what's being done? Well, if you're the Prime Minister, you make a few comments about thoughts and prayers and refuse to discuss climate change before vanishing for four straight days. If you're the deputy PM, you blame it on 'capital city Greenies', and if you're the former deputy PM, you say the dead people voted for the Greens and got what they deserved.
And if you're someone with some actual brains in your head rather than beer-soaked copies of Keith Windschuttle's bullshit and back issues of Quadrant that someone molded into a crude replica of what a five-year old thinks a brain looks like, you propose listening to people who might know a thing or two about managing the landscape:
sourceIndigenous leaders say Australia's bushfire crisis shows approach to land management failing
ndigenous leaders, who have been warning about a bushfire crisis for years, are calling for a radical change to how land is managed as Australia faces some of its worst bushfire conditions on record.
Indigenous leaders are calling for a new workforce of 'fire practitioners' to implement traditional burning practices across Australia
Traditional burning techniques involve regular, controlled burns that reduce fuel load and decrease risk of bushfires
Researchers say burning methods that date back thousands of years must be adapted to today's landscape
When Indigenous fire practitioner Victor Steffensen walked outside his house in far north Queensland this week he felt a sense of dread.
"I look into the sky and I see the misty haze coming up from down south all through the landscape," he said.
"You can see the ashes on the air, landing on the trees up here and it's like a mourning for the country.
"When we walk outside and we get that sort of feeling … we know something is wrong."
A year ago, while conducting workshops in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, Mr Steffensen predicted the crisis that has now killed three people and destroyed at least 25 homes.
"I was looking at it and thinking 'this is a timebomb, it's going to go off'," he said.
Fear of fire at the heart of 'mismanagement'
Mr Steffensen has been teaching traditional Indigenous burning practices for the past two decades.
He said this week's bushfire crisis sent a clear message to politicians that current land management practices are not working.
"We can't keep doing this," he said.
"It's really frustrating to see country get torched like that when you know they're not doing anything about it."
Mr Steffensen said the dangerous conditions resulted from a build up of fuel loads and decades of mismanagement.
"People are too scared to burn because of how dry it is," he said.
"There is grasses that are up to the roof and landscapes that have no vegetation except for large amounts of rubbish.
"The bottom line is that we need to start looking after the landscape."
New sector to draw on ancient methods
Mr Steffensen called on the State and Federal Governments to establish a new workforce dedicated to managing land and fuel loads through the use of traditional ecological knowledge.
"We need a whole other division of people out there looking after the land," he said.
"People need to be on country. Looking after the land is a full time job, not a seasonal job.
"A fire practitioner of the future is going to be full time."
Mr Steffensen said the new sector could employ Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and exist in conjunction with emergency fire services.
"We need our firefighters, we praise our firefighters that help those communities and they're needed into the future," he said.
"But we also need the land managers, we can't just throw it all on the weight of one department"
University of Tasmania professor of fire science David Bowman said Indigenous fire practices could play an important role in land management systems of the future, but they would need to be adapted to suit the current times.
"So many changes have occurred since 1975 … but we can take that knowledge and we can adapt it to suit our times," he said.
"The key message is that we can take the idea of humans using fire skilfully — we can manipulate vegetation, we can reduce fuel loads, we can sharpen fire boundaries."
What do Indigenous fire practices involve?
Mr Steffensen said burning was crucial way that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders cared for the land.
He said it involved learning to read trees, soil types, wind conditions and developing an "intimate" relationship with the landscape.
"It's like a doctor. You're there at the country to look at a specific ecosystem," Mr Steffensen said.
"It's a whole complex system. I'm not saying that it's all easy.
"But what I am saying is that if they were all trained and we had a lot more of those practitioners out there we would find that we can burn a lot more country."
He said incorporating traditional burning practices into mainstream systems would result in more regular burning and reduced fuel loads.
Mr Steffensen said it also involved changing attitudes towards fire.
"This is a really sensitive issue," he said.
"For those who have gone through a trauma through these fires, it is very sensitive. I want to really acknowledge that. But at the end of the day I don't see fear — I see an opportunity.
"I see an opportunity for people to see hope, to have workshops to go to, to see smoke and know that it's a good fire that people are out on the land doing something about it."