Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fact check Lateline: Bushfires in October

7:30 report Lateline last night....

EMMA ALBERICI: Now, the former Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg says the fire in the Blue Mountains isn't the worst we've seen, but it's certainly the first time bushfires of this magnitude have happened in October. Why has the season started so early this year?

The fires below appear to refute this statement. Had they occurred with the same spread of development and population as we currently have who knows what the damage would have been. One supposes similar to the disaster in progress.

October fires around Sydney and New South Wales, some examples:
From Sydney Morning Herald 24 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
FIRES BLAZE IN BIG AREA Buildings Lost On N. Coast
Firefighters battled yesterday with more than 100 bushfires near Sydney and in the country. Some fires were still burning fiercely last night.
STATE FORESTS Fires were burning in nine State forests yesterday.

Scores of firemen and civilians fought three bushfires in southern suburbs of Sydney nearly all day yesterday and prevented serious damage to many homes that were menaced. Firemen said last night the fires, fanned by a strong, gusty wind, were the worst since last summer. Some firemen col-lapsed from the effects of heat and smoke.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
State Bushfires Checked: Huge N.T. Blaze
Most of the bushfires in New South Wales were brought under control yesterday, but the Minister for Conservation, Mr.G. Weir, stressed that extreme. danger remained. TERRITORY Biggest Fire Ever.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
Bushfires Devastate 64 State Forests
Sixty-four State forests on the North Coast were devastated yesterday by bushfires which firefighters described as"the worst in history." Thousands of acres of grassland in the north-east corner of the State was also burned out.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
Big Timber Loss In Northern Fires
Forestry officials say that bushfire in N.S.W. in the last 10 days have destroyed at least 250 million super feet of timber- enough to have built 40,000 three bedroom houses.
The Forestry Com-missioner, Mr. L. S.Hudson, said when he returned to Sydney last night after touring North Coast fire areas that it was "quite impossible" to estimate the damage. "But at least 50,000 acres of forest land have been burnt," he said."Probably more than this has been burnt, but we cannot give a definite figure until mopping:up operations have been finished.

From Sydney Morning Herald 12 October 1948 Page 1
Gales and the greatest dust storms in many years swept across the eastern half of the continent yesterday and last night, and blew thousands of tons of inland soil toward New Zealand and New Guinea.
Queensland's Director of Meteorological Services, Mr. A. S. Richards, last night described the dust storm  as one of the worst in the State's history.

From Sydney Morning Herald 13 October 1948 Page 1
FIGHT FOR HOMES Bushfires At Mt Colah.
More than 40 homes were threatened by bushfires in the Mt. Colah district yesterday. The outbreak started at Roff's Park on Monday after-noon. Firemen and police had con-fined it to a rocky gully by dawn yesterday, but during the afternoon the wind freshened and fanned the blaze towards homes along Pacific Highway and Galston Gorge.

From Sydney Morning Herald 22 October 1948 Page 1
Bush Fire Threatens Farms Near Mona Vale
Thirty firemen, police, and civilians fought throughout last night and early this morn-ing to prevent bushfires en-gulfing two Mona Vale farm properties.

From Sydney Morning Herald 28 October 1948, Page 1 headlines:
Many Bushfires as Heat Sets Four-year Record 
Fierce bush and grass fires swept many parts of the State yesterday as the temperature again soared over 90 degrees to set a four-year record. Temperatures in Sydney early this morning fell suddenly after a south-westerly change. Most serious outbreak was on the South Coast, where the village of Termeil, 12 miles from Ulladulla, was practically destroyed.

From Sydney Morning Herald 8 October 1928, Page 11 headlines:
Fires and Storm
The city was encircled by bushfires, and many buildings were Unroofed.

Damage estimated at £20,000 was caused bya bush fire which swept through the bush country surrounding Ocean Beach, Ettalong, and Booker Bay to-day. Forty-five week-end cottages were completely destroyed. The flames were Irresistible, and in the terrible heat many of the fire-fighters dropped exhausted.

Bush fires have bean raging all day along the coast from the Hawkesbury River to Newcastle. Several houses along the shores of Lake Macquarie have been burnt down, and many more are in danger.

FIRES ON MOUNTAINS. Motorists' Exciting Time.
Bush fires broke out at various points on'the Blue Mountains yesterday, and residents experienced many anxious moments.

In common with the greater part of New South Wales and the whole of the southern States, the city experienced an exceptional wind storm and excessive heat, which created a maximum of discomfort. In the early after-noon. Great volumes of dust from Inland districts and smoke from extensive bush fires produced a thick yellow haze In the city, making visibility poor, and adding to the general discomfort.

See other reports of the above:

Gale and fire, red steer loose

Also September fires....

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