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Old 19th January 2020, 08:47 PM   #361
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My son and I drove down to Bateman's Bay and Mogo yesterday. Everything was fine until we reached the top of the Clyde Mountain. For those not familiar with the geography, much of southeastern NSW is up on a plateau, known as the Southern Tablelands. There are only a few ways off the plateau and down to the coast - Brown Mountain, Kangaroo Valley... We took the Clyde. The good news is that Pooh Corner remains intact.

At the top of the Clyde, suddenly we were surrounded by a surreal landscape of black and brown. Views which are usually obscured by foliage were visible through the charred trunks. It was incredible to see the sheer scale of what burned. How much bushland died. We made the descent in relative silence, broken by the occasional "check that out" and "wooahhh". This was the case all the way down the mountain, and on into Bateman's. What was surprising was that there were still occasional little pockets of unburned green here and there. Tiny patches, no more.

We stopped at the Boatshed for fish and chips (the only fish and chip place still worth going to, in my opinion) and then had a bit of a drive around Bateman's, seeing just how close the fires got to the town. For the record, it was very close. We saw a number of burned-down buildings in the south of the town. And many buildings where the fire must have been lapping up against the sides.

Then we went to Mogo.

Again, some good news. Contrary to the initial reports we had heard, it had not been completely wiped out. Many buildings had been lost, but many were still standing. Everything still smelled of burned wood, though nothing was still burning and there was very little smoke.

Mogo has never been anything but a tiny village, with shops intended to entice people travelling down the Princes Highway. But the sides of the road were lined with parked cars. This was the first weekend the highways had been opened, and people like me and my son were there to spend some money. Lots of people.

The coffee shop was still standing, so we sat and had cappuccinos. The ladies at the coffee shop asked where we were from and if we were passing through to somewhere else. We said no, we came here specifically to have some coffee. They responded with heartfelt gratitude. After coffee we had some ice cream, and then we went to Roman Leathergoods and Repairs.

It was utterly gone. The proprietors had erected a canopy and were selling the last of their rescued goods from the back of a van.

Of course I bought a belt. I'm wearing it right now. We didn't have cash, and they had no EFTPOS machine. The ATM had run out of cash on Saturday. Fortunately the guy at the petrol station was acting as ersatz ATM, so I was able to get enough that I could pay for the belt.

We stayed a moment to talk, and we heard how Gaspar Roman, the craftsman, had come from South America with his grandfather's tools, and now he had lost everything. Including the tools. It felt good to be able to give them some money, however modest the amount. I'm tearing up again now writing this.

As we left we could see which houses people had stayed to defend. There was one particularly notable location that was completely surrounded by burned trees, but there was a distinct island of green, with a house in it. Many weren't so lucky.

At one point while were were walking around town, a pair of kookaburras started up, over somewhere in the burned trees. That made me smile.

The Mogo Zoo is not open yet. But it survived. Zoo staff, including the new owner, took animals home with them to save them from the fires.

It was nice to be able to see so many ACT number plates in the region. It looks like Canberrans have stepped up to the mark to lend a hand in whatever way they can. Bateman's Bay is known as a holiday town for Canberrans, since it's so quick and convenient to get to. It's been a couple of years since I've been there and it's all so different now. Weird. Surreal.

The scale of the loss is tragic, but people are resilient. They'll get there. They're not giving up.
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Old 19th January 2020, 09:39 PM   #362
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Up in the Blue Mountains we have had steady drenching rain for the last five days. All the fires around here - Gosper's Mountain, Grose Valley, Ruined Castle, Erskine Creek, Green Wattle Creek - are all under control or fully out. Further north fires - Little L Complex & Kerry Ridge - are coming under control.
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Old 19th January 2020, 10:00 PM   #363
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
Up in the Blue Mountains we have had steady drenching rain for the last five days. All the fires around here - Gosper's Mountain, Grose Valley, Ruined Castle, Erskine Creek, Green Wattle Creek - are all under control or fully out. Further north fires - Little L Complex & Kerry Ridge - are coming under control.
Pretty much all of the South Coast fires are either out or under control.

We just got a massive hailstorm. Large stones. Much damage.
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Old 19th January 2020, 11:52 PM   #364
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Batemans Bay businesses on bushfire-ravaged South Coast sing for Canberra tourists to return

* arthwollipot;12956896 makes a note to head to the coast for fish and chips soon.

Just as long as your car hasn't had it's windscreen punched out by the hail. It missed my parked car by only a few kilometres.
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Old 20th January 2020, 12:50 AM   #365
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Originally Posted by a_unique_person View Post
Just as long as your car hasn't had it's windscreen punched out by the hail. It missed my parked car by only a few kilometres.
When I moved into my current place I made the decision to use half of my double garage to store my car, so it was indoors at the time (since I bus to work). My entire complex lost all of our skylights, though. The Body Corporate is putting in a claim for it all.
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Old 20th January 2020, 01:49 AM   #366
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Lots of cars damaged in Canberra. I have seen several with broken or cracked windows. My neighbour showed me his car with dents in it from the hail. If you want to see video search Youtube for hail Canberra. Heaps to choose from.

Work was scary. Water was leaking inside. Went home.
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Old 20th January 2020, 07:22 AM   #367
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Positively biblical.

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It's when they get to the bit about "fire mingled with the hail ran along upon the ground" that it gets spooky.
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Old 20th January 2020, 07:43 PM   #368
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
If you want to see video search Youtube for hail Canberra.
Hail Canberra!
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Old 22nd January 2020, 06:10 PM   #369
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We've been lucky for too long.
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Old 22nd January 2020, 06:15 PM   #370
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Meanwhile, we are under water in Melbourne....
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Old 22nd January 2020, 06:16 PM   #371
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Meanwhile, we are under water in Melbourne....
Under mud, from what I'm hearing.
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Old 22nd January 2020, 07:30 PM   #372
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So there are two out of control fires near the Canberra Airport, which is closed. One of the guys I work with has just found out that his house is in a threatened area.

I'm not threatened - I'm closer to the fire here at work than I am at home, and the wind is not pushing it in this direction. The wind is from the west, the fire is in the east.

However, the wind is strong and there is, in addition, an absolutely massive dust storm. The air is once again brown. Forecast rain vanished before it hit us.

Here's a map showing the current extent of the fires. It was published less than half an hour ago.
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Old 22nd January 2020, 09:46 PM   #373
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The two fires merged and are now being referred to as the Beard fire. This region is one of Canberra's few industrial areas (light industry) but it appears that a recycling centre there has been hit and is now producing a thick cloud of probably toxic black smoke.
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Old 22nd January 2020, 09:58 PM   #374
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Moruya, NSW

Credit: Michael McGowan/Guardian Australia
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Old 22nd January 2020, 10:06 PM   #375
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I am hearing from social media that a large air tanker may have crashed. Not seeing anything on the news yet.

Hopefully it just turns out to be a false rumor.
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Old 22nd January 2020, 10:08 PM   #376
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
I am hearing from social media that a large air tanker may have crashed. Not seeing anything on the news yet.

Hopefully it just turns out to be a false rumor.
Nope, confirmed. Large air tanker downed in the Snowy Mountains.
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Old 22nd January 2020, 10:41 PM   #377
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Nope, confirmed. Large air tanker downed in the Snowy Mountains.
It's just been announced that three people were killed in that crash.

ETA: It looks like this was one of the ones that flew over from America. All three were US residents.

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Old 22nd January 2020, 10:58 PM   #378
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's just been announced that three people were killed in that crash.



ETA: It looks like this was one of the ones that flew over from America. All three were US residents.



Terrible news.

On two counts. The casualties and the fact I think it was one their biggest fire fighting planes.

Massive things that are big enough to transport tanks.

Sure it was a US one. I think Aus brought some from them and converted to fighting fires?
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Old 22nd January 2020, 11:10 PM   #379
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I was evacuated from work. No emergency but the fire was nearby and the power had already had a sustained period of instability where the lights kept flickering off and on.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 07:12 AM   #380
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Originally Posted by cullennz View Post
Terrible news.

On two counts. The casualties and the fact I think it was one their biggest fire fighting planes.

Massive things that are big enough to transport tanks.

Sure it was a US one. I think Aus brought some from them and converted to fighting fires?
The aircraft involved was from a Canadian firm, Coulson Aviation. It was a converted C-130 Hercules with a 4,000 US Gallon dump capacity.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 08:05 AM   #381
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
The aircraft involved was from a Canadian firm, Coulson Aviation. It was a converted C-130 Hercules with a 4,000 US Gallon dump capacity.
Canadian and American. The aircraft was based in Oregon and the three crew members were American.

C-130's are "Large Air Tanker", not "Very Large Air tanker" like the modified DC-10s and 747s. There are a fair variety of large air tankers these days in the same size range as the C-130.

The 130's advantage is easy convertibility. The suppression gear is in a modular unit that just goes in the cargo hold and dumps the retardant through a modified door. It takes less than a day to convert a 130 from cargo use to firefighting and even less time to convert it back to cargo again.

A few of them crashed a decade or so ago firefighting in the U.S. The led to retirement of most of the large air tankers that were in service at the time. There was a pinch that lasted for quite a while as contracting issues and the demand for military contractor cargo aircraft in Afghanistan and Iraq cut down on the supply and remaining service lifetime of the aircraft available.

Not that we've gotten past that, there are a lot of Large air tankers using a variety of airframes.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 12:50 PM   #382
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A summary of the issues.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 07:05 PM   #383
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's just been announced that three people were killed in that crash.

ETA: It looks like this was one of the ones that flew over from America. All three were US residents.



Dammit.

Dammit dammit dammit.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 08:06 PM   #384
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The USA, for whatever reason, has decided to avoid use of modern, purpose-built firefighting aircraft and instead rely on repurposed WWII and Vietnam era planes flying in conditions they were never meant to. This is the result.
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Old 23rd January 2020, 08:14 PM   #385
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
The USA, for whatever reason, has decided to avoid use of modern, purpose-built firefighting aircraft and instead rely on repurposed WWII and Vietnam era planes flying in conditions they were never meant to. This is the result.
Have zero issue with them utilising those particular planes and converting for fire fighting. They might as well have been built to do it given the design.
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Old 25th January 2020, 12:10 AM   #386
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Very sad, nonetheless...

Meanwhile, our seven day forecast is predicting 40°C here next Thursday.

Hopefully this doesn't mean that everything starts up again.
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Old 27th January 2020, 04:02 AM   #387
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More smoke, more fires, another heat wave coming our way.
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Old 27th January 2020, 06:27 PM   #388
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Just as I got in from orchestra practice this evening it started to snow heavily. I'd rather be here.
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Old 27th January 2020, 07:32 PM   #389
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We've had some pretty clear days over the last few weeks, but the smoke's back. There's a new fire in Namadgi National Park, just south of Canberra. And yes, we're going into heatwave conditions. Again. 35 today, 36 tomorrow, 39 on Thursday, 41 on Friday and Saturday, with rain forecast (50% chance so I'll believe it when I see it) on Sunday.
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Old 27th January 2020, 08:15 PM   #390
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Just as I got in from orchestra practice this evening it started to snow heavily. I'd rather be here.
It has snowed in Melbourne in my time here (nearly 50 years). Once......
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Old 27th January 2020, 10:48 PM   #391
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Canberra bushfire upgraded to emergency level as heatwave bears down on capital

Quote:
Residents told to leave immediately as fire threatens properties south of the capital on Tuesday

A bushfire burning across more than 2,500-hectares in Canberra’s Namadgi national park was upgraded to emergency level on Tuesday, with people nearby told to leave the area immediately and not return.

The blaze was threatening properties on Boboyan, Apollo and Top Naas roads.

“Leaving immediately is the safest option. Soon it will be too dangerous to drive,” the ACT Emergency Services Agency said in a statement.

“The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path.”

Beyond those three roads, there was no broader threat to properties in Tharwa or Canberra suburbs.
This is the area. The house where I lived for 10 years, and where friends of mine still live, is visible on the map below. The yellow bits at the top are the southernmost suburbs of Canberra, where my son lives. He was also evacuated because of the Beard fire last week.

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Old 27th January 2020, 11:01 PM   #392
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
We've had some pretty clear days over the last few weeks, but the smoke's back. There's a new fire in Namadgi National Park, just south of Canberra. And yes, we're going into heatwave conditions. Again. 35 today, 36 tomorrow, 39 on Thursday, 41 on Friday and Saturday, with rain forecast (50% chance so I'll believe it when I see it) on Sunday.
Do not blink or you may miss it. If it does rain, it will not be much. 1-5 mm.
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Old 28th January 2020, 12:25 AM   #393
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Quote:
Defence helicopter likely caused fire

The Department of Defence has admitted the fire was likely caused by one of its own helicopters, after one its landing lights created enough heat to set the grass on fire.
"The fire started during routine aerial reconnaissance and ground clearance work being conducted in the area in support of our local firefighters and authorities," Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman said on behalf of Defence.
Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said the helicopter was using the lights to help it land in smoky conditions, but the heat set a fire that grew rapidly and damaged the aircraft.





https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-...ening/11907438


That's all it takes to start an out of control fire, not even a spark or flame, but a bright light.
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Old 28th January 2020, 02:45 AM   #394
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Just drove home from Canberra city and I can see flames in the hills in the distance. Night time so the water bombers have to stop work.
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Old 28th January 2020, 05:36 PM   #395
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I remember previous years with what seems similar news. One year was really bad and at the time I had a friend in Sydney and I actually phoned him to see if he was OK. That must have been the early 1990s I think.

Is this really unprecedented?
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Old 28th January 2020, 05:41 PM   #396
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I remember previous years with what seems similar news. One year was really bad and at the time I had a friend in Sydney and I actually phoned him to see if he was OK. That must have been the early 1990s I think.

Is this really unprecedented?
The scale probably is, but there is no doubt that the Black Saturday fires were far more intense and destructive. Whole towns were wiped out in minutes.
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Old 28th January 2020, 05:58 PM   #397
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
The scale probably is, but there is no doubt that the Black Saturday fires were far more intense and destructive. Whole towns were wiped out in minutes.
The scale absolutely is, by a very large margin. The fires have burned far more area, and for a longer period of time, than ever before.
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Old 28th January 2020, 08:53 PM   #398
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The smoke is very bad again where I am. The AQI reported as at an hour and a half ago is 130, but it's got a lot worse since then. This is like just after Christmas, when it was up in the 800s.

I brought my mask to work today - looks like I'll have to wear it home.
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Old 28th January 2020, 09:28 PM   #399
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
The scale absolutely is, by a very large margin. The fires have burned far more area, and for a longer period of time, than ever before.
If it was 47 C with 80 km/h winds like black Saturday it would have been worse than you could imagine.
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Old 28th January 2020, 09:28 PM   #400
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This is the view from my office window from a few minutes ago.



Hashtag no filter. It's really that colour.
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