Fires in Australia

04 March 2014


Coal Fire Turns Australian Mine Into Mordor's Mount Doom

A fire at the the Hazelwood open-cut coal mine has turned a large swathe of Morwell, Australia into something out of J.R.R. Tolkien's Mordor.

The fire at the mine has been blazing for three weeks and is believed to be the result of a bushfire started by an arsonist. The town of Morwell and its 14,000 inhabitants has been blanketed in smoke and authorities fear it could take months to completely extinguish the blaze. The town is about 150 km east of Melbourne.

There is speculation that the government of the province of Victoria may soon order a total evacuation. Tens of thousands of gas masks have been distributed, according to Vice.

The blaze poses a difficult challenge for firefighters because even when flames are extinguished the coal continues to smoulder. The fire can reignite at any moment and rages underground. Firefighters are concerned about the danger posed by landslides caused by the huge quantity of water being used on the flames.

 

Picture 1 and 2. A fire at the the Hazelwood open-cut coal mine

Picture 3 - acquired February 7, 2014

                Picture 4 - acquired February 23, 2014

                               Picture 5 - acquired February 23, 2014

Pictures 3 and 4 from Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite, combine infrared and visible light to show the extent of the burned area and the glowing fire in the mine.
The picture 5, a natural color version of the February 23 scene, shows plumes of smoke rising from the mine and drifting over Morwell.
(Please double-click on the picture for closer view).
Source: NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

GFMC cooperating with Australian authorities: GFMC is in close contact and provides advisory services to the responsible authorities regarding lignite fire control techniques and precautionary measures to reduce risks to human health and security, using the WHO Health Guidelines on Vegetation Fire Events and recent insights in human health risks arising from fires burning in organic terrain:

Letter of Recognition for GFMC Advisory Support by the EPA
On 2 May 2014 the CEO of the Environment Protection Authority of Victoria, Australia, sent a letter of recognition for the remote advisory support by GFMC

Recent Media Reports on this particular Coal Mining Fires in Australia: Note: The hyperlinks on the left side of each news are password-protected (User ID and password to enter the GFMC database are available for partners of GFMC. To obtain the ID and password, please send your query to fire@fire.uni-freiburg.de). The links on the right side (in brackets) are leading to the original news source; sometimes these news are expiring rather swiftly - a reason for the establishment of the internal GFMC database):

More reports see GFMC Media page: http://www.fire.uni-freiburg.de/media/news.htm


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