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
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
4 - acquired February 23,
5 - acquired February 23,
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.
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
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