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An Essay On Nsw Bushfires In 1994

539 words - 2 pages

From Saturday 1 January to Saturday 15 January1994, New South Wales experienced its mostdevastating bushfires on record. There had been aprolonged El Niño event Ð much of the coast ofNew South Wales had endured an extended periodof below average rainfall. This had resulted indrought conditions in many areas and a build-upof very dry fuel. There were repeated warningsthat the ®re potential was the worst for more than20 years.Fires flared and receded and entire townswere evacuated Ð some more than once. Morethan 200 fires raged over large areas of coastalNew South Wales, from Tweed Heads in thenorth to Ulladulla in the south, and many ofthese were started by arsonists. Thebushfires were particularly largeand dangerous around Sydney. TheKu-ring-gai and Lane Cove nationalparks were ablaze and severalhomes on Sydney's north shore werelost.The fires were eventually broughtunder control, but only after amassive firefighting effort. There wereover 10000 firefighters involved,14 000 ®re units and water tankers,51 helicopters and five fixed-wing,water-bombing aircraft.There are some parts of Sydney andnearby areas where fires can spreadquickly due to the landforms. These are thesandstone plateau areas where sandstone rockoverlies shale rock. In dry periods the vegetationon the plateau dries out rapidly making it idealfuel if a bushfire starts in the valleys below. Thenorthward-facing slope and upper valley alsotend to dry out rapidly as they are under theinfluence of northerly winds and more directsolar radiation (see the diagram). Fires canspread very quickly and engulf the plateau area,placing houses at severe risk. Many nationalparks around Sydney are also very vulnerablebecause they have large areas of these landforms,as are suburbs such as Terrey Hills andLane Cove.DANGER ZONESDistribution of the New South Wales ®res, 1994Sandstone plateaus and the spread of bush®resWe...

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