Bushfire Scenario shocks community
By DAVID HOGG
ABOUT 200 people attended a very clever Bushfire Scenario evening at North Warrandyte Family Centre on November 27, presented by Be Ready Warrandyte, a branch of the Warrandyte Community Association.
The evening was intended to inform the community as to what would actually happen in a serious bushfire scenario, rather than give specific detailed advice as to how people should act or how they should write their individual bushfire plans.
It certainly succeeded. Steve Pascoe, Emergency Management and Bushfire Safety Consultant and a survivor of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires at Strathewan, together with Joff Manders, Commander Emergency Management Liaison at Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade, took us on a simulated journey of what will actually happen if and when a serious bushfire hits our region.
Set on the lines of a Geoffrey Robinson Hypothetical, with brilliant and disturbing graphics, photographs, and map simulations on a big screen, these two eminent experts took us step-by-step through each stage of the disaster, from time-to-time calling other experts in their field — police, CFA, local authorities — to the microphone to provide additional clarification.
3 dead, 10 missing, many in hospital, 50 homes gone, many more damaged.
It is Terrible Thursday, February 13, 2020.
This is the second of two very hot spells of weather so far this year, temperature is 39°, wind is a strong south-westerly, Forest Fire Danger Index is 60 so the fire danger level is at Severe and so those who were going to evacuate on Extreme or Code Red days have not done so.
At 9am a bushfire is reported in Beauty Point Road, Research; trucks are dispatched and on arrival call for more assistance as the fire spreads quickly west and 000 receive calls of further spot fires.
Emergency Services issue a “Watch and Act” for North Warrandyte, Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Park Orchards, and many people start to leave North Warrandyte by car.
By noon the Watch and Act is upgraded to an Emergency Warning stating: “It is now too late to leave”.
Power is off to the whole district and the water supply is reduced to a trickle.
By 12:30pm the temperature is 40°, humidity is 12 per cent, there is smoke everywhere; Research Road and Kangaroo Ground Road are jammed with cars trying to go south across the bridge.
Others are trying to get north across the bridge to join their families who are trapped on the north side but they are being turned around by Police at the roundabout.
A 4WD with horse float has jackknifed on Research Road.
The north-westerly wind change comes through and the flank of the fire now becomes a wide fire front which the wind pushes as a huge storm towards North Warrandyte.
The fire has quickly doubled in size and embers are spotting up to 10km ahead of the front.
Firefighters have now been pulled back as the fire roars into North Warrandyte.
It is evening: 2,350 hectares have been burned, three bodies have been pulled from cars, 10 people are missing possibly in the remains of their homes, 50 houses have been lost and hundreds are damaged.The area will be locked down for at least a week, possibly a month as there are trees and powerlines across roads and embers still burning.
Resident s cannot access the fireground, and any who have survived and decide to leave the area will not be allowed to return.
Councils will provide emergency relief centres in due course, possibly at Diamond Creek Stadium and Eltham Leisure Centre, and at Manningham DISC and the Pines Shopping Centre, where victims can obtain assistance, advice, comfort, and some food.
Power may not be restored for weeks and emergency crews will be busy removing fallen trees, erecting new powerlines, dousing burning embers, removing any dangerous trees from roadsides and removing the remains of many cars.
The presentation was very informative and made most residents more aware of what could happen.
The photos were, at times, disturbing.
The evening finished with snacks and drinks outside, and the emergency services and council personnel were available to answer any further question.
Well done Be Ready Warrandyte, and congratulations to all involved with this very professional and informative scenario session.