The 2007-08 summer fire season saw a significant drop in wildfire activity for CFA in comparison with the previous five years. Although initial early season indicators reflected a high probability of an early and active summer wildfire season, weather conditions moderated from November 2007 onwards with a number of significant rain events occurring at critical times over February, March and April 2008, reducing the State-wide grass and forest fire risk for Victoria.
In total 10 TFB days were declared, two of which were whole of State declarations (11 January and 14 March 2008). All TFBs involved the western half of the State and, in particular, the North West TFB District. Table 8 provides details of the TFBs declared in 2007-08. Table 9 provides comparative data for TFBs for the period 2003 to 2008.
'Fire Danger Period' declarations began on 1 November 2007, with all bans concluding by 1 May 2008.
Table 8. Days of Total Fire Ban 2007-08
|Date||Total Fire Ban District|
|29 December 2007||North West|
|31 December 2007||North West; South West; Central|
|1 January 2008||North West; North East; Central|
|10 January 2008||North West; South west; Central; North East|
|11 January 2008||Whole State|
|10 March 2008||North West; South West; Central|
|13 March 2008||North West; South West; Central|
|14 March 2008||Whole of State|
|15 March 2008||North West|
|17 March 2008||North West; South West; Central|
Table 9. Number of Total Fire Ban Days declared (2003 to 2008)
|Fire Season||Whole of State||Partial|
The reduced summer fire risk provided firefighters, fire line managers, and group, regional and headquarters staff and supporting organisations with welcome relief from the high activity periods experienced over the preceding three years.
A Victorian contingent from CFA and DSE provided strike teams and supporting resources to the South Australia Country Fire Service (CFS) for large scale fire activity on Kangaroo Island from 9-17 December 2007. This support saw strike teams, administrative and liaison personnel, district mechanical officers and equipment, as well as communications personnel deployed in support of the CFS request.
The largest wildfire managed by CFA over the 2007-08 summer season occurred on 10 January and was known as Morrisons Fire. This fire started on private land in Atchisons Road, Mt Doran and quickly spread to adjoining Dollys Creek State Park and burnt an area of 518 hectares. This event involved 48 vehicles and required CFA attendance for seven days.
CFA urban and rural response activity over the summer 2007-08 period remained at usual levels and saw CFA responses for a diverse range of incidents including:
- a range of technical rescues, notably the Beulah Silo fatality requiring recovery of the victim, trench collapse incident at Narre Warren North, and confined space rescues at Terang, Murmungee, Leongatha and Stawell
- marine fire responses in conjunction with Coast Guard flotillas at Carrum and Portland as well as the boarding and management of a ship board fire off the Victorian coast on the Chinese cargo vessel MV Jin Hui.
With the weather conditions affecting the farm sector, a large number of cereal farmers took the opportunity to recover some potential financial losses by cutting failing cereal crops for hay. As a result CFA noticed an increasing trend in hay bale and hay shed fires occurring as the summer progressed. This resulted in significant losses in some instances of storage and hay stocks. One facility at Donald suffered a loss of 4,500 bales at an estimated cost of $1.3 million. CFA in conjunction with DPI investigated and informed the rural sector of this emerging trend as the cause was determined to be high moisture levels in the cereal grasses when baled.
Summer activities peaked during two periods, with March 2008 providing a short run of high temperature days with very high to extreme potential, but little increase in fire activity occurring, and, a land gale storm event occurring in April 2008 which resulted in CFA actively supporting VicSES at a number of levels.
In total CFA attended 38,892 incidents in the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 resulting in 71,518 brigade responses. Tables 10, 11 and 12 provide further details of these incidents.
Table 10. Total Number of incidents 2001 to 2008
|Fire and explosions||13,946||14,859||13,187||13,028||11,162||16,368||15,497|
|Motor vehicle accidents, rescue, Emergency medical support calls||3,328||3,387||3,354||3,403||2,909||3,661||3,723|
|Good intent calls||3,880||4,690||4,316||5,190||4,410||5,520||5,283|
|False alarms/false calls||7,702||7,759||7,468||7,560||5,988||7,482||7,430|
|Total Primary Incidents||34,259||36,476||34,236||35,802||36,360||41,2523||38,892|
Table 11. Total number of turnouts by CFA brigades 2003 to 2008
Table 12. Summary of Major Incidents 2007-08
|Date||Incident Type||Location||CFA appliances||Fire Size (hectares) or Cost|
|23 July 2007||Factory Fire||Dandenong||25||$7.8 million|
|21 August 2007||Structure Fire||Rutherglen||14||$1-2 million|
|8 November 2007||Structure Fire||Bayswater||13||Supermarket Warehouse/St Vincent De Paul
Both stores received substantial building damage. Approximately $1 million worth of stock was lost and the building was damaged, resulting in loss of employment.
|18 November 2007||Grass Fire||Wathe Flora and Fauna Reserve||23||5,000 hectares of public land (80 per cent of the reserve) burnt in Wathe Flora and Fauna Reserve. The reserve is the home to the Mallee Foul – a rare bird species, which is only found in Mallee Scrub areas.|
|16 December 2007||Structure Fire||Donald||8||4,500 bales of fodder at an approximate cost of $800,000 to $1.3 million|
|10 January 2008||Grass Fire||Allestree, approx 10 kms north-east of Portland||23||88.4 hectares
Significant economic impact. Fire caused by high voltage power line failure (pole burnt through dropping wires onto a fence) resulting in loss of power over a wide area of south western Victoria for several hours. Properties involved also lost fodder, fences, a caravan and pastures. Princes Highway closed for several hours.
|10 January 2008||Grass Fire||Morrisons||48||534 hectares
Significant economic impacts in the saving of 80 ha of pine nursery and gene stock owned by AKD Colac on the western flank. Approximately 100 ha of grassland on private property was lost. Other assets lost included a shed, including contents at the point of origin of the fire – estimated value $90,000; and a weekender shack at Morrisons – estimated value $50,000.
|7 February 2008||Marine Incident||Geelong||4||MV Jin Hui. Loss of approximately 6–8 tonne of product from a total load of 12,614 tonne. Delays in unloading caused disruption to surface transport and ship berthing arrangements.|
|13 February 2008||Structure Fire||Frankston Oval||10||The grandstand has historical significance in the area. The facility
contained dressing and training rooms, etc underneath. Seating capacity
of approx 1,000 means spectators will be without seating for approx
Estimated value of $2 million.
|7 March 2008||Structure Fire||Darnum||11||Milk factory explosion and fire.
The incident has cost the company approximately $1 million to reinstate the damaged plant and to process its supplier’s milk offsite for the time the plant was down.
|12 March 2008||Factory Fire||Swan Hill||10||Factory fire at Tank World.
Damage estimated at $1 million.
|20 March 2008||Structure Fire||Rosebud||10||DHS owned Peninsula Community Health Centre destroyed. Estimated $2 million damage.|
|26 March 2008||Structure Fire||Greensborough||20||Apollo Parkways Primary School
100m x 50m section of the building was involved.
Approx $2.5 – $3 million for building only.
|4 June 2008||Boat Fire||Portland||18||Commercial fishing boat fire.
$500,000 damage sustained to vessel
2 The high number of incidents shown as 'Incomplete' in 2005-06 was impacted by industrial bans on reporting.
3 Part of the increase in annual number of incidents in 2006-07 can be attributed to the implementation of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and EAS paging across the state, which automatically generates a Fire Report for every incident paged. Due to amended reporting conditions on the automatic Fire Reports, this also added a significant proportion of the incidents shown as "Incomplete" in 2006-07.