Exciting news! It rained here yesterday, it's now the second day in a row where the smoke has gone away. I can breath outside without a mask!
The smoke has been obnoxious here for weeks/months with only a very few partly clear days.
The Gospers Mountain fire is the largest of the fires east of me, (west and north west of Sydney), it started in October 2019 and was officially announced as "contained" (still burning but contained) a few days ago (i.e. January 2020, burnt for about two and a half months). 512 thousand hectares burnt from a single point of ignition which is apparently a world record. Multiply hectares by about 2.5 to get the figure in acres. most of the fires around it eventually burnt into each other. The total area burnt by that fire and a hand full of others in just that bit of bush west/north west/north of Sydney, about 900 thousand hectares. Which is interesting as that is about the same as the total of the recent Amazon bush fires or the Californian fires. That is just one group of fires. There were of course many others including one south of that, hence south west of Sydney and then a series in three or so groups with small gaps going all the way down to and across the Victorian/NSW border. Sydney to the state border on the coast is about 500km. There are many more elsewhere of course. I don't know the total burnt is right now, but by following the area burnt by the currently active fires over time (from the NSW RFS website below), the highest I noticed was over 4.15 million hectares, so that means that is not including any fires that had been extinguished at that time nor the extra burnt since then. So my guess is something like 4 and a half million hectares must be about right, but that is only for the state of NSW.
If anyone is curious this link is to the NSW rural Fire Service "fires near me" map. The fires shown and currently active fires for the state of NSW.
https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-informa ... es-near-me
There were at different times less than 10 fires reasonably near my place that were all put out before any got larger than a few 10s or 100s of hectares. The closest I think was about 11km away. That might seem a long way, but during one of those "catastrophic" fire weather days, 11km is not very far, one of my mates said the fire that hit them had travel 30km over one night. On a day when the wind is gusting to perhaps 80km/hr, the temperature is over 45 degrees centigrade and the wind has travelled something like one thousand or more kilometres across the hot dry outback and hence has a near zero humidity.....plus a dry and a considerably large fuel load ....put that together and you hope like hell that no fires start because if they do start, they are not likely to stop for anything.
Anyway, right now I am feeling like the worst is over, but logically I know that this is still early in our fire season and all this rain will dry out in a week or so of hot summer weather ....so we will see.
As far as why it happened etc. you will all likely see all sorts of simplistic garbage talked. The truth is that it is complex and all comments are true to some extent with caveats etc. even the contradictions.
Some general points for perspective
1) our Prime Minister ....what can I say about someone who, amongst several other things, went on holidays to Hawaii while his country burnt!
2) it is just a simple fact that this was made worse and statistically more likely to happen due to the long term average effects of climate change (including an increase in extreme weather events) which have been previously predicted and are currently measured and hence shown to exist.
3) although it is true that in some cases more clearing around some houses was needed and some more hazard reduction burning may have help in some limited situations, however when the weather is as extreme as it was and hence the fires were so intense only areas burnt less than 12 months ago made any difference to the spread of these fires, it just simply raced straight through areas burnt 2 years ago. Most if not all, "greenies" including the political party "The Greens" all understand that the Australian bush needs to burn on a regular basis and has some plants that only seed after they have been burnt, and that the wildlife and the bush is best served by having regular low intensity fires.
4) the number of animals killed and the risk to "populations" or "species" as distinct from just a few individual animals is due to the scale and ferocity/intensity of these fires rather than bushfires in a general sense. Most animals and plants have adapted to the regular common "normal" fires.
Anyway there is so much more I could say but I have already likely written too much so I will just end with some "good stuff", the amount of countries who have sent firefighters/other people to help is very much appreciated. The donations and other help from many foreign and Australian companies and individual people have also been generous, many organisations have received orders of magnitude more than they hoped for.
Thank you to all of you for your good wishes.