2015 Sampson Flat bushfires

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2015 Sampson Flat bushfires
January 2015 Adelaide bushfires.jpg
A plume of smoke emerging from the Adelaide Hills region during the bushfires, 2 January 2015. The Adelaide city centre is the cluster of buildings visible centre right.
Location Southern Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia, Australia
Statistics
Cost A$13 million
Date(s) 2 January 2015 (2015-01-02)[1] – 9 January 2015 (2015-01-09)[2]
Burned area more than 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres)[3]
Land use
  • Residential
  • Farmland
  • Conservation parks
  • Forest reserves
Buildings
destroyed
27 houses;[4]
140 outbuildings[5]
Fatalities 0
Non-fatal injuries 134[5]

The 2015 Sampson Flat bushfires were a series of bushfires in Australia in the state of South Australia, that primarily affected the Adelaide region, predominantly the Adelaide Hills and the outer Adelaide metropolitan area. The fires began on 2 January 2015 during a day of extreme heat and lasted until 9 January 2015.[6][7]

The fires began in the outer northern area of the city, in the suburb of Sampson Flat. It later travelled southeast towards the Kersbrook township and across the Mount Lofty Ranges toward the Adelaide Hills. As of 6 January 2015, at least 26 houses were destroyed with 37 families in temporary accommodation.[3] This count had increased to 38 houses, 125 outbuildings and 134 injuries by the evening of 6 January. The town of Kersbrook was worst hit, with twelve houses destroyed.[5] On 7 January, the number of houses destroyed throughout the affected area was revised down from 38 to 32[8] and again down to 27 a few days later.[4] There were no fatalities as a result of the bushfires; and the total cost was estimated to be more than A$13 million.

At the same time, a smaller fire threat was posed near Tantanoola and Glencoe in the Limestone Coast region on 2 January 2015.[9][10]

Background[edit]

2014 was Australia's sixth-warmest year since national temperature observations commenced in 1910. Following Australia's warmest year on record in 2013, both maximum and minimum temperatures remained well above average, with frequent periods of abnormally warm weather throughout the year.[11] For the 6-month period from July to December 2014 southeast South Australia recorded the lowest 5 per cent record of rainfall deficiencies, extending a continued pattern of severe rainfall deficiencies over a 27-month period.[12]

On 1 January 2015 a fire weather warning and total fire ban were issued across most of South Australia as the Bureau of Meteorology estimated the temperature in Adelaide would peak at 42 °C (108 °F), with temperatures throughout the north-west of the state and stretching down to the Eyre Peninsula estimated to range between 43–46 °C (109–115 °F) on that day.[13] On 2 January the temperature in Adelaide peaked at 44.1 °C (111.4 °F), approximately 20 °C (36 °F) degrees above the average December temperature for Adelaide while the following day reached 38.2 °C (100.8 °F), which further aggravated conditions.[14][15]

Chronology[edit]

The Sampson Flat fire was declared to be a "major emergency" at 08:30 ACDT on 3 January 2015, giving the South Australia Police and emergency services additional authority to manage the event and control access in and out of the area.[16] Over thirty roadblocks limited access to the fireground to anybody not involved in the emergency response. Residents started to be allowed back in from 6 January, with their identity and address being checked to limit access to only the roads that had been cleared as safe for travel. Road clearing was suspended on the afternoon of 7 January due to the wind and thunderstorms making the activity unsafe for the cleanup crews.[17] The major emergency declaration was rescinded at 3pm on 7 January, despite it being able to remain in force for 14 days.[18]

The weather assisted to contain the fire on Sunday and Monday 4–5 January with mild winds and temperatures in the range of 30–34 °C (86–93 °F), but daily temperatures rose again on Tuesday and Wednesday 6–7 January, with forecast maximum temperature in the range of 35–39 °C (95–102 °F) on both days.[19]

Thunderstorms on the afternoon of 7 January produced a spate of new grass fires from lightning, but also brought cooler temperatures, increased humidity, and rain over some parts of the fireground, making it easier to control and extinguish the remaining areas. In the early morning hours of Thursday 8 January, the South Australian Country Fire Service confirmed on its website that the fire had been completely brought under control with crews remaining on the ground to extinguish the remaining hot spots. Extensive rainfall across South Eastern Australia on 9 and 10 January significantly reduced the fire risk.[2]

Response[edit]

Air Tractor AT-802A on its way to deliver another load of fire retardant on 3 January.

Over 700 South Australian Country Fire Service volunteers were involved in fighting the fire, supplemented by teams from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and Victorian Country Fire Authority.[20] A record number of 31 aircraft were available to assist in fighting the fire.[21]

The hospital at Mount Pleasant was evacuated of all patients, and the hospital at Gumeracha partially evacuated and closed to new patients due to the impacts of the fire, including that the staff needed to be attending to their own homes and families, and relief staff could not get in.[22]

The Prime Minister Tony Abbott together with the Premier Jay Weatherill visited parts of the damaged area in the Adelaide Hills on 7 January 2015 and announced that victims of the bushfires shall be entitled to receive disaster recovery payments via Centrelink. The South Australian government also announced a relief package.[23]

Relief packages were offered by a number of financial institutions including the ANZ Bank,[24] BankSA,[25] Bendigo Bank,[26] the Commonwealth Bank,[27] the National Australia Bank,[28] Suncorp Bank,[29] and Westpac.[30]

The Government of South Australia activated the South Australian Emergency Relief Fund and called for donations to the Sampson Flat Bushfire Relief Appeal. The Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and Bank SA agreed to accept donations in their retail branches.[31] Additionally, the Commonwealth Bank donated $500,000 to the appeal;[27] and BHP Billiton donated $250,000 as well as agreeing to donate two dollars for every one dollar donated by BHP Billiton's employees.[32] The Australian Red Cross established the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund and delivered disaster assistance from two relief centres established by Housing SA.[33] RSPCA South Australia also called for donations to assist the people and animals affected by the bushfires emergency.[34]

Likely cause and damage[edit]

An early theory for the source of the fire was a backyard incinerator started by a resident on Shillabeer Road in Sampson Flat.[35] As of 7 January 2015, this theory was still under investigation.[36] Incinerators are banned in Adelaide suburbs but are legal in rural areas outside the suburbs of Adelaide. The resident of the home where the incinerator was located said a dam pump on the property was not operational until he fixed it two weeks ago and that an irrigation pipe, which was burnt in the fire, was laid on the ground rather than buried underneath.

The fires are the worst to affect the Adelaide Hills region since the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, which was caused by years of drought and extreme heat.[37] In addition to the significant fire in the Adelaide Hills, there was also a major fire in the south east of South Australia, and several in Victoria at the same time. The two large water bombers were based in Victoria at Avalon Airport south of Melbourne, but moved for several days to RAAF Base Edinburgh in northern Adelaide at the height of the fire. From either base, they were flying sorties to both South Australia and to western Victoria.

The fire in total had blackened more than 12,500 hectares (31,000 acres) of forest and grazing land, including 35 hectares (86 acres) of vineyards[38] stretching a total perimeter of 224 kilometres (139 mi).[4] A number of native wildlife, livestock and family pets perished in the blaze.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Warnings and Incidents". SA Country Fire Service. Government of South Australia. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 02/01/2015 12:33 Watch and Act Message: SHILLABEER ROAD, SAMPSON FLAT 2: Grass Fire GOING 3 
  2. ^ a b "Bushfire Advice Message: Sampson Flat". SA Country Fire Service. Government of South Australia. 9 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 09/01/2015 17:52 Bushfire Advice Message: The CFS is currently monitoring a fire at Sampson Flat in the Mount Lofty Ranges near One Tree Hill, Humbug Scrub, Para Wirra Recreation Park, Mount Crawford, Kersbrook, Gumeracha, Kenton Valley, Cudlee Creek and Inglewood. Although rain has fallen on the fireground there is still the potential for hotpots to reignite. Fire resources and support agencies continue to work in these areas. Whilst some roads have been opened to residents only, the public must remain vigilant for potential or existing hazards. Although this fire does not pose a threat to life or property at this time, people in the area are advised to check and follow their Bushfire Survival Plan and monitor local conditions. 
  3. ^ a b "Adelaide Hills bushfire: 26 houses destroyed, 37 families in temporary accommodation". ABC News. Australia. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "Adelaide Hills bushfire: Number of homes lost in fires downgraded to 27, rain helps ease fire threat". ABC News. Australia. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Adelaide Hills bushfire: Up to 38 houses destroyed, Kersbrook worst hit". ABC News. Australia. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Adelaide Hills bushfires: Firefighters battle to control South Australia blaze before temperatures rise again". ABC News. Australia. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "Bushfires: five SA homes destroyed, Victoria braces for more blazes". The Australian. 3 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Emergency warnings downgraded for Victoria fires as South Australia gets rain after 32 homes gone". Adelaide Now. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Bushfire Emergency Warning: Tantanoola". SA Country Fire Service. Government of South Australia. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 02/01/2015 14:52 Bushfire Emergency Warning: CFS advises that a serious bushfire is burning out of control at Tantanoola and Glencoe in the Lower South East near Mile Hill Road. The TANTANOOLA fire is travelling in a South Westerly direction towards Princess Highway and the Bluff Burrungle. There is a risk to lives and homes. The uncontrolled fire is burning in Forest. 
  10. ^ "Bushfire Advice Message: Tantanoola". SA Country Fire Service. Government of South Australia. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 03/01/2015 17:43 Bushfire Advice Message: The CFS advises that the threat posed by the TANTANOOLA fire near Tantanoola and Glencoe in the Lower South East has reduced. Although the threat has reduced, be aware that some risks are still present. There may be smoke in the area. Visibility may be reduced and there may be falling trees. 
  11. ^ "Annual climate statement 2014". Bureau of Meteorology. Australian Government. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Drought: Rainfall deficiencies: Some relief on the east coast, rainfall deficiencies increase in western Victoria and southeast South Australia". Bureau of Meteorology. Australian Government. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Sutton, Malcolm (2 January 2015). "South Australia to swelter in 40C temperatures as statewide heat spell looms". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "At least four houses destroyed by bushfire near Kesbrook in Adelaide Hills, CFS confirms". ABC News. Australia. 3 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Climate statistics for Australian locations: Adelaide Airport (1955-2015)". Bureau of Meteorology. Australian Government. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Declaration of a major emergency - Sampson Flat fire" (Press release). South Australia Police. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Road clearing suspended due to extreme weather" (Press release). South Australian Police. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Major emergency declaration lifted" (Press release). South Australia Police. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "Adelaide forecast". Bureau of Meteorology. Australian Government. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "Worsening fire conditions ahead for SA". Yahoo!7. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Salna, Karlis (6 January 2015). "Race to contain blaze on Adelaide's fringe". Yahoo!7. AAP. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "Sampson Flat bushfire update". SA Health (Press release). Government of South Australia. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  23. ^ "Tony Abbott tours Adelaide Hills, announces federal funds for SA bushfire victims". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "ANZ provides assistance for customers affected by the SA bushfires" (Downloadable PDF) (Press release). Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited. 4 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  25. ^ "Affected by the bushfires" (Press release). BankSA – A Division of Westpac Banking Corporation. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  26. ^ "Assistance for SA bushfire victims" (Press release). Bendigo Bank. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  27. ^ a b "Commonwealth Bank activates emergency assistance package for customers affected by South Australian and Victorian bushfires" (Press release). Commonwealth Bank of Australia. 4 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  28. ^ "Support for NAB customers affected by South Australian bushfires" (Press release). National Australia Bank. 4 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  29. ^ "Suncorp Bank offers financial relief to South Australia and Victoria bushfire victims" (Press release). Suncorp Bank. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  30. ^ "Westpac provides disaster relief package for customers impacted by bushfires in South Australia" (Press release). Westpac Banking Corporation. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  31. ^ "Sampson Flat Bushfire Relief Appeal and donations". Emergencies and safety: SA bushfire recovery. Government of South Australia. 9 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  32. ^ Validakis, Vicky (9 January 2015). "BHP donates $250,000 for South Australian bushfire victims". Australian Mining. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  33. ^ "Disaster Relief and Recovery: Adelaide Hills bushfire: We need your help". Australian Red Cross. 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  34. ^ "SA Bushfire Emergency". RSPCA South Australia. 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  35. ^ "SA faces worst fire since 1983 blazes". Sky News Australia. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  36. ^ "Sampson Flat fire investigation" (Press release). South Australia Police. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  37. ^ "SA faces worst fires since 1983 disaster". The Australian. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  38. ^ Curtain, Carl (21 January 2015). "Adelaide Hills winemakers seek expert advice on potential smoke taint following bushfire". ABC Rural. Australia. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  39. ^ "Adelaide Hills bushfire: Dogs and cats perish as blaze sweeps through Tea Tree Gully Kennels and Cattery". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 

External links[edit]