List of major bushfires in Australia

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This is a list of major bushfires in Australia. The list contains individual bushfires and bushfire seasons that have resulted in fatalities, or bushfires that have burned in excess of 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres), or was significant for its damage to particular Australian landmarks.

As of 2010, Australian bushfires accounted for over 800 deaths since 1851 and, in 2012, the total accumulated cost was estimated to be A$1.6 billion.[1] In terms of monetary cost however, bushfires have not cost as much in financial terms as the damage caused by drought, severe storms, hail, and cyclones,[2] perhaps[opinion] because they most commonly occur outside highly populated urban areas.[clarification needed]

Of all the recorded fires in Australia, the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in the state of Victoria claimed the largest number of recorded deaths of any individual Australian bushfire or bushfires season – 173 fatalities over 21 days.[3] The largest known area burnt was between 100–117 million hectares (250–290 million acres), impacting approximately 15 per cent of Australia's physical land mass, during the 1974-75 Australian bushfire season.[4] The most number of homes destroyed was approximately 3,700 dwellings, attributed to Victoria's 1939 Black Friday bushfires.[5]

The fires of the summer of 2019–2020 affected densely populated areas including holiday destinations resulting in the New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, to claim it was "absolutely" the worst bushfire season on record [in that state].[6]

Some of the most severe Australian bushfires (single fires and fire seasons) have included:[a]

Date Name or description State(s) /
territories
Area burned
(approx.)
Fatalities Properties damaged Notes
ha acres Homes
(destroyed)
Other buildings Other damage
6 February 1851 Black Thursday bushfires Victoria 5,000,000 12,000,000 approx. 12 0 0
  • 1 million sheep
  • thousands of cattle
[7][8]
9 September 1895 Upper Blue Mountains fires New South Wales 150 370 0 Dozens Sheds Main Western Railway Line at Mount Victoria
1 February 1898 Red Tuesday bushfires Victoria 260,000 640,000 12 0 2,000 [8][9][10]
February – March 1926 1926 bushfires Victoria 390,000 960,000 60 1,000 0 [11]
13 January 1939 Black Friday bushfires Victoria 2,000,000 4,900,000 71 3,700 0 [5]
14 January – 14 February 1944 1944 Victorian bushfires Victoria 1,000,000 2,500,000 15–20 approx. 500 0 [8]
18 November 1944 1944 Blue Mountains bushfire New South Wales 0 approx. 40 0 [12][13]
November 1951 – January 1952 1951–52 bushfires Victoria 4,000,000 9,900,000 11 0 0 [14]
2 January 1955 Black Sunday bushfires South Australia 39,000–160,000 96,000–395,000 2 40[b] 0 [15][16]
30 November 1957 1957 Grose Valley bushfire, Blue Mountains New South Wales 4 0 0 [citation needed]
2 December 1957 1957 Leura bushfire, Blue Mountains New South Wales 0 170[c] 0 [citation needed]
January – March 1961 1961 Western Australian bushfires Western Australia 1,800,000 4,400,000 0 160 0 [17]
14 – 16 January 1962 1962 Victorian bushfires Victoria 32 450 0 [11]
16 February – 13 March 1965 1965 Gippsland bushfires Victoria 315,000 780,000 0 more than 20 60 4,000 livestock [18]
5 – 14 March 1965 Southern Highlands bushfires New South Wales 251,000 620,000 3 59 0 [19]
7 February 1967 Black Tuesday bushfires Tasmania 264,000 650,000 62 1,293 0 [8]
1968 – 69[clarification needed] 1968-69 Killarney Top Springs bushfires Northern Territory 40,000,000 99,000,000 0 0 0 [20]
29 November 1968 1968 Blue Mountains Bushfire New South Wales 4 approx. 120 0 [citation needed]
8 January 1969 1969 bushfires Victoria 23 230 0 [11]
1969 – 70[clarification needed] 1969-70 Dry River-Victoria River fire Northern Territory 45,000,000 110,000,000 0 0 0 [20]
1974 – 1975 summer fire season

(defined as October 1974 to February 1975 in Queensland only)
1974-75 Australian bushfire season[d]
  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Western Australia
117,000,000 290,000,000 6 unknown unknown 15% of Australia was burnt. The damage was mostly in central Australia and so it did not impact many communities.
  • 57,000 farm animals
  • approximately 10,200 kilometres (6,300 mi) of fencing
[20][21][4][22][23][24][25][26][27]
12 February 1977 Western Districts bushfires Victoria 103,000 250,000 4 116 340 [citation needed]
17 December 1977 Blue Mountains Fires 1977 New South Wales 54,000 130,000 2 49 0 [citation needed]
4 April 1978 1978 Western Australian bushfires Western Australia 114,000 280,000 2 0 6 [citation needed]
December 1979 1979 Sydney bushfires New South Wales 5 28 0 [28]
3 November 1980 1980 Waterfall bushfire New South Wales 1,000,000 2,500,000 5[e] 14 0 [29]
9 January 1983 Grays Point bushfire New South Wales 3[f] 0 0 [30]
16 February 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires
  • South Australia
  • Victoria
418,000 1,030,000 75 approx. 2,400 0 [31][32]
25 December 1984 1984 Western New South Wales grasslands bushfires New South Wales 500,000 1,200,000 0 0 0
  • 40,000 livestock
  • A$40 million damages
[23][24][25]
Mid-January 1985 1985 Cobar bushfire New South Wales 516,000 1,280,000 0 [23][24]
1984 – 1985 season[clarification needed] 1984 - 85 New South Wales bushfires New South Wales 3,500,000 8,600,000 5 [20][23][24][25][26][27]
14 January 1985 Central Victoria bushfires Victoria 50,800 126,000 3 180 0 [citation needed]
27 December 1993 – 16 January 1994 1994 Eastern seaboard fires New South Wales 400,000 990,000 4 225 0 [33]
8 January 1997 Wooroloo bushfire Western Australia 10,500 26,000 0 16 0 [citation needed]
21 January 1997 Dandenongs bushfire Victoria 400 990 3 41 0 [34]
2 December 1997 Lithgow bushfire New South Wales 2[g] 0 0 [34]
2 December 1997 Menai bushfire New South Wales 1[h] 11 0 [35]
2 December 1997 Perth and South-West Region bushfires Western Australia 23,000 57,000 2 1 0 [citation needed]
2 December 1998 Linton bushfire Victoria 5[i] 0 0 [36]
25 December 2001 – 7 January 2002 Black Christmas bushfires New South Wales 753,314 1,861,480 0 121 0 [37]
August – November 2002 2002 NT bushfires Northern Territory 38,000,000 94,000,000 0 0 0 [20]
18 – 22 January 2003 2003 Canberra bushfires Australian Capital Territory 160,000 400,000 4 approx. 500 0 [34]
8 January – 8 March 2003 2003 Eastern Victorian alpine bushfires Victoria 1,300,000 3,200,000 0 41 213 10,000 livestock [38]
December 2003 Tenterden Western Australia 2,110,000 5,200,000 2 0 0 [citation needed]
10 – 12 January 2005 2005 Eyre Peninsula bushfire South Australia 77,964 192,650 9 93 0 [39]
New Years Day 2006 Jail Break Inn Fire, Junee New South Wales 30,000 74,000 0 7 4
  • 20,000 livestock
  • 7 headers
  • 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) of fencing
[40][41]
December 2005 – January 2006 2005 Victorian bushfires Victoria 160,000 400,000 4 57 359 65,000 livestock [42]
January 2006 Grampians bushfire Victoria 184,000 450,000 2 0 0 [43][44]
6 February 2006 Pulletop bushfire, Wagga Wagga New South Wales 9,000 22,000 0 0 2
  • 2,500 livestock
  • 3 vehicles
  • 50 kilometres (31 mi) of fencing
[45]
1 December 2006 – March 2007 The Great Divides bushfire Victoria 1,048,000 2,590,000 1 51 0 [citation needed]
September 2006 – January 2007 2006–07 Australian bushfire season
  • New South Wales
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia
1,360,000 3,400,000 5 83 approx. 20 [46][47][48][49][50][51][52]
4 February 2007 Dwellingup bushfire Western Australia 12,000 30,000 0 16 0 [citation needed]
6 – 14 December 2007 2007 Kangaroo Island bushfires South Australia 95,000 230,000 1 0 0 [53]
30 December 2007 Boorabbin National Park Western Australia 40,000 99,000 3 0 0
[citation needed]
7 February – 14 March 2009 Black Saturday bushfires Victoria 450,000 1,100,000 173 2,029 2,000 [3][54][55][56][57]
4 January 2013 Tasmanian bushfires Tasmania 20,000 49,000 1 0 170 [58]
18 January 2013 Warrumbungle bushfire New South Wales 54,000 130,000 0 53 118
[59]
17 – 28 October 2013 2013 New South Wales bushfires New South Wales 100,000 250,000 1 208 40 [60][61][62]
27 December 2011 – 3 February 2012 Carnarvon bushfire complex Western Australia 800,000 2,000,000 0 0 0 11 pastoral stations
(fences, watering systems, water points, stock feed)
[citation needed]
2 – 9 January 2015 2015 Sampson Flat bushfires South Australia 20,000 49,000 0 27 140 [63]
29 January – 20 February 2015 2015 O'Sullivan bushfire (NorthcliffeWindy Harbour) Western Australia 98,923 244,440 0 2 5 Thousands of hectares of production forests (karri and jarrah) or national parks [citation needed]
January 2015 2015 Lower Hotham bushfire (Boddington) Western Australia 52,373 129,420 0 1 1
  • 1 bridge
  • Thousands of hectares of production forest (jarrah) or national parks
[citation needed]
1 August – 9 August 2015 2015 Wentworthfalls Winter Fire New South Wales 800 2,000 0 0 0
October – November 2015 2015 Esperance bushfires Western Australia 200,000 490,000 4 10 0
[64][65]
15 – 24 November 2015 Perth Hills bushfire complex – Solus Group Western Australia 10,016 24,750 0 0 0 Jarrah production forest and Conservation Park [citation needed]
25 November – 2 December 2015 2015 Pinery bushfire South Australia 85,000 210,000 2 91 0 [66][67]
January 2016 2016 Murray Road bushfire (Waroona and Harvey) Western Australia 69,165 170,910 2 181 Yarloop Workshops
  • Thousands of hectares of Lane Poole Reserve
  • Production forest (jarrah)
[68]
11 – 14 February 2017 2017 New South Wales bushfires New South Wales 52,000 130,000 0 35 0 [69]
early February 2019 Tingha bushfire New South Wales 23,419 57,870 0 19 57
  • Livestock
  • Vineyards
[70][71]
5 September 2019 – 2 March 2020 2019–20 Australian bushfire season (Black Summer) Nationwide 18,626,000 46,030,000 34[j] approx. 2,600[k] approx. 6,000 At least one billion wild animals are estimated to have died (not including frogs and insects) with some species thought to be facing extinction. Area[73] Other[74][75][76][77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84][85][86]
1 June 2020 - 1 June 2021 2020-21 Australian Bushfire Season Nationwide 250,000 617,763 0 5* in SA

Possibly up to 85* homes lost in WA

Dozen outbuildings and 1 Service Station in Lucindale and dozens of out buildings in Bradbury


Outbuildings, Sheds and A nursery destroyed in Oakford

Out buildings lost in Wooroloo and surrounds

1 house in Northmead north west of Sydney was severely damaged

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The 1974-1975 and 2019-2020 bushfire seasons have a combined total of area burnt.
  2. ^ Included the Governor's summer residence at Marble Hill
  3. ^ Included the Chateau Napier
  4. ^ The 1974–75 bushfire season burnt over 100 million hectares (250 million acres), but there are different figures reported:
    • In 1995, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 117 million hectares (290 million acres)[4]
    • The 2004 National Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management reports a total of 102 million hectares (250 million acres)[20]
    The extent of the 1974–75 bushfire season was not known until after the event when satellite images were analysed, due to the fires being mostly located in very remote areas of the continent.[4]
  5. ^ All firefighters
  6. ^ All volunteer firefighters
  7. ^ Both firefighters
  8. ^ A firefighter
  9. ^ All firefighters
  10. ^ Includes 3 NSW firefighters, 1 Victorian firefighter, and 3 US firefighters who were killed in a Lockheed C-130 Hercules water tanker crash in the Snowy Monaro region[72]
  11. ^ As of 13 January 2020
    • NSW 2,162+
    • SA 100+
    • Vic 54+
    • Qld 40+
    • NT 5
    • Tas 1
    • WA unknown

References[edit]

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