Channel 9 carried a touching story about three koalas who had been rescued from the fires and then named after the three American pilots, Ian McBeth, Paul Hudson and Rick DeMorgan who died in their C130 near Cooma.

At the time of the tragedy, James Fitzgerald’s Two Thumbs Wildlife Trust sanctuary had been under threat from the flames.

“They actually dropped retardant on my sanctuary and then crashed into the ground,” Mr Fitzgerald told 9News.”It’s a huge tragedy for the families.”Having people in that plane die was very difficult because you can’t fix it – you’d like to fix it, but you can’t.”Five months on from the three pilots’ deaths, Mr Fitzgerald has unveiled a tribute to the men who tried to save his sanctuary – naming three surviving koalas after them.

NPWS calls on Hunter Central Coast women to help protect national parks and threatened wildlife

The Mirage News reports that With 125 new roles on offer with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) across the state, women on the Hunter Central Coast are particularly being encouraged to join the team at the frontline protecting our parks and threatened wildlife.

Australian bushfire season’s long-term health effects subject of UTS study

The ABC asks if you ever did wonder what those plumes of bushfire smoke that stretched across Australia were doing to your lungs? Plane crash survivor Catherine Fitzsimmons certainly did.

The flight instructor had always been active, but physical activity had become necessary to maintain the parts of her lungs that remained intact after smoke inhalation.

Ms Fitzsimmons, from Bathurst in the New South Wales central west, was pulled from a burning aircraft by the student she was teaching after a crash landing in nearby Orange in 2018.

The plane crashed into a fence and flipped over, trapping Ms Fitzsimmons inside with burning fumes. “It could have been a lot worse,” she said. Her recovery routine, involving daily inhaling devices and exercise, was affected by last season’s bushfires.

Although the nearby Gosper’s Mountain mega blaze in the Blue Mountains did not reach Bathurst, apocalyptic blankets of smoke did.

The regional community’s air quality station recorded hazardous air quality readings on multiple occasions over summer, choking residents who dared walk outside.

“I had a young exchange student living in my house and she had the app, and she would tell me every day what the air quality was like, and then we would decide whether we could risk going out for a bicycle ride or a walk,” Ms Fitzsimmons said.

She did not risk it very often.

Bushfire review set to go to SA government

7 News reported that a review of South Australia’s devastating bushfires over summer, which looked at the state’s preparedness for major blazes and what could be done to mitigate the impacts, is set to go to the state government.

Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty is due to present his report this week, after leading the review which was constrained by COVID-19 restrictions limiting some community engagement. Mr Keelty was given a wide-ranging brief with the review’s terms of reference including elements of prevention, preparation, the state’s response to fires and the recovery processes.

He looked at key issues, including the development of a new state bushfire plan, the warnings given to the community as fires developed, how major incidents were managed and what resources were available Emergency Services Minister Corey Wingard declined to comment directly on what might come out of the review but said the government would study its findings and recommendations.

When the review was launched Mr Wingard said the government wanted to ensure SA was “appropriately positioned to respond to and recover from significant natural disaster events”.

“Our emergency services have done an outstanding job these past few months and this inquiry will help identify any learnings that can be applied next season,” he said.

Wollondilly Council calls for better bushfire evacuation routes

THe Wollondilly Advertiser reports that Wollondilly 

Council is calling on the state government to improve bushfire evacuation routes in the shire as towns recover from the effects of the Green Wattle Creek blaze earlier this year.

The bushfire crisis that gripped Australia in the latter half of 2019 through to early 2020 has had a devastating impact on communities around Australia.

In Wollondilly, more than 30 homes were damaged or destroyed when the Green Wattle Creek bushfire swept through the shire. The council represented the community and provided evidence at the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements earlier this week.

Wollondilly mayor Matthew Deeth said the extreme bushfire season resulted in overwhelming damage to homes, infrastructure, natural environment and wildlife. “Wollondilly was hit hard by the Green Wattle Creek fire, and our community didn’t have time to recover before we were hit by floods and Covid-19,” he said.

“It is important that we take this opportunity to reflect on what has happened, what worked well and what could have been done better during the catastrophic conditions we experienced.” Local government plays a pivotal role in all stages of an emergency under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989.

Cr Deeth said evacuation during the peak of the bushfire was a major issue for the residents of Wollondilly.

Salvos’ Bushfire Mobile Recovery teams moving again in NSW

The Eden Magnet reports that Salvation Army’s Mobile Bushfire Recovery Teams have returned to the NSW South Coast after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing rules.

Phone and web-based Recovery Services continued in all bushfire-impacted regions during the onset of COVID-19, while personal support and counselling was suspended. Last week the team was working in Moruya and next week they will be in Bega from Monday, June 29 until Wednesday followed by Quaama on Thursday and Friday. The Mobile Recovery Teams will provide emergency financial relief and assess grant applications, Moneycare Financial Counselling and personal support from a Salvation Army Officer.

The resumption of face-to-face assistance complements ongoing access to Salvos’ bushfire disaster recovery support via 1300 662 217 and sal.disasters@salvationarmy.org.au

Video footage of infrared koala survey on Kangaroo Island after bushfire

The Goulburn Post reports that the National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia has released a short snippet of video from its high-tech koala count on Kangaroo Island.

With estimates as many as 45,000 koalas were killed on the Island in the summer’s bushfires, the state government is attempting to determine how many koalas remain on KI.

Drone operators from contractor Airborne Data Acquisition wrapped up their survey of known koala sites on the night of Wednesday, June 24.

Surveys have taken place between midnight and 6.30am since June 1 detecting the thermal signature of koalas.

The drones flew approximately 30 metres above the tree canopy, using on-board thermal cameras to collect data on koalas.

The raw data from the drone surveys will now be sent to researchers at Queensland University of Technology, who will use artificial intelligence to analyse it.

QUT ecologist Associate Professor Grant Hamilton expects to have a final count in a few weeks.

South West Slopes Fire Control Centre Nears Completion

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has inspected the almost finished Rural Fire Service (RFS) Fire Control Centre in Harden.

The new multi-million dollar Centre will provide the RFS South West Slopes Zone with state-of-the-art facilities to better support members during incidents and provide enhanced training capabilities.

Ms Cooke said the tour highlighted how important the Fire Control Centre will be for firefighters responding to and preparing for emergencies.

“It is fantastic to see the progress on this building and to know how much it will mean to the people of Harden Murrumburrah and members of the RFS. This will give them access to the latest technology for responding to incidents in the South West Slopes Zone,” Ms Cooke said

“This facility like this will assist our firefighters to carry out their instrumental work, and it is wonderful to see it is almost complete.”

RFS Inspector Tom McDevitt said the new Fire Control Centre will feature dedicated Operations and Planning rooms; and an exciting feature will be a state-of-the-art knowledge wall for situational awareness.

“This Centre has been eight years in the making and we are all excited to see the project come to fruition,” Inspector McDevitt said.

“Once opened, it will offer increased opportunities for our volunteers and staff to complete training. It has been purpose designed and built to increase our response to incidents.”

“The building will be of significance not only to Rural Fire Service volunteers and staff but also the people of Harden Murrumburrah as there will be potential for other groups within the community to use the facility, value-adding to the community.”

Construction began on the Harden RFS Fire Control Centre in September 2019.

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