Fire on the Limestone Plains/Bush Fires/The 1979 Bush Fires

The 1979 Bush FiresEdit

On 13 February 1979 extreme fire weather conditions prevailed in the Territory. The following is from the 1978-79 Bush Fire Council Annual Report -

A grassland fire danger rating of 70 (on a scale of 100) was calculated on the McArthur fire danger meter. Twelve fires were attended by Bush Fire Council units that day. The maximum temperature reached was 39 degrees Celcius. The major fire started at Sunny Corner near the Village of Hall. It was first detected by the fire towers at 2.59 pm. Fanned by winds gusting to 70 kilometers per hour, the fire burnt fiercely in a northward direction and quickly grew in size spreading at an estimated 8 kilometers per hour at its worst.
At around 1540 hours the fire approached the Gundaroo Road, around 4 kilometers from the source. Around 1620 hours the fire had reached Gungaderra Homestead (about 7 kilometers from the source), the fire is running in fully_cured Phalaris grassland. The fire behaviour was erratic with flame bursts of 4 to 10 metres and huge fire whirls.
The town of Sutton (N.S.W.) was evacuated about 5pm, when the fire reached the tops of nearby hills and began moving towards the town on a one-kilometer wide front. A major wind change to the south-west occurred at about 1730 hours, the fire broke out along the entire northern flank and burnt strongly to the north east. By the time the fire had been controlled, at about 4 am the next day, a total of 165 square kilometers (16 500 hectares) of land had been burnt in the A.C.T.(4 025 hectares) and New South Wales (12 475 hectares).
The fire caused losses in the A.C.T. of two cottages, three sheds, machinery and stored fodder, about 5000 sheep, six horses and fencing worth $200 000. The fire was caused by a drop-out fuse from a high tension powerline.
On the same day there were other major outbreaks in the A.C.T. at Mount Painter, Tuggeranong, near Kambah Pool and at Stirling where an A.C.T. Bush Fire Brigade Tanker was burnt out.[1][2]

From the Canberra Times

  • Two 12-year-old boys had been charged with starting a number of fires in the Stirling area, in one of which an ACT Bush Fire Council truck had been extensively damaged last week, ACT Police said last night. The boys had been arrested yesterday morning by Sergeant Blenn Mclnnes, from Woden, after allegedly attempting to start a fire next to Streeton Drive, Stirling. The boys would each be charged with three offences under the Careless Use of Fire Ordinance and one relating to malicious damage to a fire truck on February 13. Police would also charge two 11-year-old boys with lighting a fire in the Stirling area on Friday.[3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1978-79 Bush Fire Council Annual Report
  2. The Hall / Sutton (Gold Creek) Fire 13th February 1979 http://www.firebreak.com.au/jeff_cutting-bushfires.html
  3. The Canberra Times Wednesday 21 February 1979