Bushfire 16 January 2005



On Saturday 15th January a bushfire started east of Pickering Brook and by Sunday there was a real problem.  The above montage was made from 3 p[ics courtesy of brenn1.

All the pictures above and below until the next text were taken from my back veranda











When the wind dropped about 6.30 pm there was a chance to adjourn to the Pickering Brook Sports Club for a quiet ale.  However, if the wind swung to the south or southwest there would have been a quick dash for home but that seemed unlikely at the time.  Nevertheless, it was only a brief visit.


Anyway it was hard to get a park at the club because it was full of fire-fighting units and personnel waiting for the wind to turn southerly.



and the oval was being used for helicopters.   I was told that in the afternoon it was like Perth Airport with choppers filling their water buckets.


Monday 17th January

Hey I am still breathing and haven't met any angels yet!

Last night the southern sky was awesome.  The orange glow from the fires was reflected from the clouds of smoke.  I tried to photograph it but it was too dark; my el cheapo camera has its limitations.


The sky looked really clear at 6.00 am.  "Great" I thought "We are out of the woods" (bad joke deliberate).  Here are a couple of pics from my back verandah:




Contrast these pics with yesterday's. 

The bad news is that an SES guy (State Emergency Service) was here this morning at about 5.30 warning residents that the fire is on our doorstep and will be here within a few hours.  I think the weather forecast is favourable and should blow the fire away from us and back onto itself.  Here is hoping.  Watch this space.

8.15 am

We have just been out to the Gravel Pit about 1 km to the South of my property on motor cycles.  The fire has reached the gravel pits but it is not 'storming' and there are large open areas.  We were surprised that there were no fire fighters there.  Here are the pics:


The picture to the left is looking east and the picture to the right is looking west.  The fire in the picture on the right was too close to our retreat for comfort so we didn't tarry long.


On our return home we were informed that there was a large group of fire fighters on the corner of Pickering Brook Road and Ashendon Road, about 5 kilometres to the East of my property having breakfast.


We wondered why they were there and not at the gravel pit.  The gravel pit as you can see consists of a large open area devoid of flammable material so if a problem arose there would be relative safety.

The fire is to the south east of my property and about 1 km distant.  Fortunately the wind is in the East and expect to go round to the North East and then to the west as the day wears on.  Temperatures of 38C are expected in the middle of the day before a change comes through.  There is still cause for concern but I think the chances of disaster are now slim.


There were several appliances at the Ashendon Road/Pickering Brook Road intersection but few personnel.  The explanation to the above query is that ours is a lower priority fire.  Almost all their resources are directed towards saving houses at Karagullen - a few km south of here.  It is hard to argue with that. 

11.50 am

A short while ago there was a worrying development.  Two seats of fire to the south suddenly started billowing smoke.  The smoke from the most easterly flare appeared to be blowing east when the wind on the ground was backing into the north east.  Such are the meteorological problems the fire fighters face.



I just rode out to the quarry 1 km south of my property.  There are several heavy plant vehicles which appear to have the fire there under control.  Unless and until we get a wind SE-SW I think I am relatively safe.  To the west of the quarry a large fire can be seen but it is quite a few kilometres distant.

1420 Hours

The wind changed.  There is now a real problem.  Mother evacuated again.  The wind is coming from the SW and the fire is approaching from that direction.  The air is now smokey and around 1445 ash began to fall. Neighbours are in the property to the west and south west of here to combat spot fires.





Received news that the commentator at the cricket said the sea breeze had just hit the WACA.  Expect the Doctor to reach here in about 45 mins and then the fire will travel quite quickly.  At the moment I estimate the fire is 1500 - 2000 metres away and heading directly towards me.  Throat is prickly and it is oppressively hot.

Watch this space.




This is awesome.  I have never seen a sky like this.  I have had a report that the Pickering Brook Sawmill has gone.  The fire is near Kingsmill Road and approaching.   Weather is now unpredictable and a thunderstorm is starting.  In Kalamuna 16 km to the West it poured down so my Bacon might be saved yet :)

Here is yet another pic of the sky




The Doctor (the local sea breeze) fanned the fire and drove it directly towards my place.  It was a terrifying 10 minutes or so and it appeared imminent that we would be hit by a firestorm.  However, within 5 - 10 minutes  of when I estimated the fire would hit the wind abated and things settled down a little.  When the front arrived next door the locals attacked it with tractors towing spray equipment.  There were no government fire fighters on the ground but we had the undivided attention of at least two of the at least two of the fleet of 4 available helicopters flying between my next door but one downstream neighbour to the East where they sucked water from a dam and my western upstream neighbour where the fire front was.


Spot fires were appearing in the western property and we tried to put them out as fast as they occurred.  It was touch and go but thankfully the wind stayed down and we managed to win the day.