Rain is not a simple blessing

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Rain, in fact hail, helped fire crews last night when they were battling a deliberately lit fire at the inter-section of the Plenty and Stuart Highways, a 45 minute drive north of Alice Springs.

It was but the latest in the “absurd number” of deliberately lit fires along the roadsides of a widespread area of Central Australia, says Neil Phillips, Acting Senior Fire Officer for Bushfires NT.

While helpful last night, the rain may pose a problem further down the track.

Over the last seven days there have been falls right through the Alice Springs district. The highest fall was at Colyer Creek with 27mm; Bond Springs had 10mm; Wigley’s Gorge, 18mm; Alice Springs Airport, 12mm.

Fuel loads will regenerate to varying degrees. They are likely to be sparser than previously but, once they dry off, they’ll be able to carry a fire.

A fire burning from a heavy fuel load area, where buffel grass has grown thickly, could carry across these regenerated areas to another heavy fuel load area, wiping out the benefit of the firebreaks that have been created, both intentionally and by all the wildfires.

However reduced fuel loads are better than nothing, says Mr Phillips, as they are less dangerous to control whether in preventative burns or a wildfire situation.

Fuel reduction burns are continuing but crews are constantly being drawn away from the task. A crew from the South Australian Country Fire Service was doing a control burn south of the gaol on the weekend. The intention had been to reduce roadside fuel loads for a 10 km stretch. They had done two kms when they had to be redirected to fighting a deliberately lit fire on the Santa Teresa road.

Posted Oct 4, 2011: Interesting story on the ABC about concerns in South Australia about buffel grass invading from the NT. The introduced grass species is a major contributor to the seriousness of the current bushfires. Today rain is providing relief. Search the Alice Springs News Online archive for articles about buffel grass.

Pictured: Fire alongside Stuart Highway. Archive photo.

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