Fire season 2015, Warrandyte – it begins

The authorities have not yet declared fire season open for 2015, but the weather is thumbing its nose at our attempts to tame it with calendars and calculations.

ENSO status graph

We are in the grip of a strong El Nino and it is bringing unseasonal hot spells, dry spells and fire.

Looking out over my property, and Warrandyte in general, I see mostly green, but there is not as much of it as there was last year – i.e. the grass is not knee high and heading for Everest – and the alpacas are having no trouble keeping it manicured.

The downside of this is that I’ll have to give my four-footed lawnmowers some supplementary feed much sooner than I’d like. The upside is that there ‘may’ be less to burn once everything turns summer-brown.

One thing is for sure, we are having a heat-wave in the first week of October. The temperature is forecast to hit 35, which is not that bad, but it will be accompanied by strong north winds.Those winds are the real danger, plus the pattern of north wind turning to southwesterly as the cool change comes through. Any fires still going at the time of the wind change can easily get out of control.

I don’t really believe today will be a super bad day because the ground is still fairly moist. Nevertheless, we’ve already had one 20 minute power outage from a tree down which shows how strong the wind is. It’s really howling. I’m glad I did these jobs early this year:

  • Burning off. I did the worst of my burning off during the cold, damp days of the last two weeks. There’s still quite a bit to do, but the area around the house is clear.
  • I also had the area just outside my fire-fighting pumps concreted so I can sweep or blower-vac the leaves away.
  • The pumps themselves survived the flood I caused during winter and have been checked and topped up. They are ready to go.

fireseason 2015 1

Speaking of that flood, you might like to see the landscaping that was inspired by it:

fireseason 2015 2

Once I found where the agricultural pipe from the pump housing area came out, it seemed silly to have all that potential water go to waste so I dug a lateral channel with a shallow-ish pit up above the quince tree [top third of the picture]. The original channel I turned into a pretend creek bed.

Then I thought, why not extend the creek bed down into the orchard area?

The spindly looking trunks [mid picture] belong to the two feijoa trees. Now half of the ground beneath them is kept cool by the big river pebbles and the other half can be mulched with heaps of mushroom compost. And it looks rather pretty, imho. 😀

And just because I am paranoid, I dug two more pits and filled them with pebbles. Both are deep enough so that I can fill them with water if need be. The seepage will keep the ground moist and the trees happy.

Right. -cough- Fire season jobs still to be completed are :

  • Some mechanical mowing using my electric lawn mower. I only have a few smallish spots to do [where there are weeds that the alpacas can’t eat], but it’s still not something I look forward to. I’m obsessively careful with the electric cord attached to the lawnmower, but that necessary care does slow the job down just a tad.
  • Fixing of one fire-resistant shutter. The cable has become ‘stuck’ so I can’t lower it past the half-way point. Not great as the window it’s meant to protect faces north. Not being able to close the shutter completely also means my poor little office heats up quick smart [it faces north too]. Luckily a nice man is coming out from Eurotec on Thursday.
  • Last on my to-do-list will be a complete test run of all sections of the roof sprinklers.

After all that, the Daughter and I will be back to ‘practising’ our fire-plan. We both have to be competent at getting the pumps started and the sprinklers turned on otherwise what’s the point?

Well, that’s it for now, Warrandyte. If you haven’t already started your preparations for this year, I strongly suggest you get off your butt and do so.

cheers

Meeks

 

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

20 responses to “Fire season 2015, Warrandyte – it begins

  • Honie Briggs

    Sounds like you could write a book on best practices for fire safety. Here’s hoping the weather is mild and your trees get a chance to develop some roots.

    Like

  • mammacazza

    Interesting isn’t it, I found you when commenting on an overseas blog, another fellow Victorian. The hot and windy weather is scary for so early in the season. Your fire plan and cleanup around your property in preparedness for summer is efficient. We need to finish our cleanup jobs as well.

    Like

    • acflory

      lol – welcome. 🙂 I don’t mind coincidence if it sends me new friends.

      As more and more of us become aware of the danger, and what we need to do to keep ourselves safer, we end up making the whole place safer. At least I hope so. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • anne54

    I am always impressed by the care you take with your bush fire plans. When you live in the inner city, you are very complacent and forget that the threat is very real. And also forget that there maybe no one to rely on except yourself and the Daughter.
    Your landscaping looks great. I love the idea of a dry creek bed.

    Like

  • EllaDee

    I’m astounded that Victoria & NSW aren’t in line with the dates. The NSW Fire Service web page states “The statutory bush fire danger period runs from 1 October-31 March. However it may vary due to local conditions…” but the site also shows that in all but less than a dozen council areas it is in place. You are right to prepare, I think this summer is going to be extreme, so I’m reassured you are prepared and it’s wonderful that you are spreading the message.
    I don’t think I’ve ever experienced October days as hot as they were last weekend… if it’s anything to go by.

    Like

    • acflory

      I don’t think we have a ‘statutory’ fire season per se. They announce it each year and it’s mostly to do with when you can no longer do burning off or light fires in the open. I think the NSW model makes more sense. Let everyone learn the dates and get used to what they can and cannot do.

      I do a few posts on bushfires every year in the hope that I can educate some of the newer residents who really don’t have a clue. Not their fault but still terribly dangerous.

      Like

      • EllaDee

        Seems crazy given the expected weather last week that the now catastrophic control burn was done last week. I think the modeling needs to be stricter but at the same time more flexible acknowledging that each year the conditions can be very different, as opposed to simply saying October is safe…

        Like

        • acflory

          Yes! I noticed that too. I’m just a lay person but even I know you don’t do controlled burns in high winds, esp. north winds. Apparently they have to get permission months? weeks? ahead – for so-called safety reasons – so autonomy on the ground is minimal. Even so, the burns were insane.

          How can any experienced CFA officer not raise a stink about such madness?

          Like

  • Candy Korman

    Between the floods in South Carolina and the drought in California, add fire season and extreme weather is scary all over!

    Like

  • chrisjames282

    Sending you warm wishes from Warsaw. I do hope it’ll be a wet and cold summer down your way… But if it isn’t, could you crack on with Innerspace? Some of your avid readership are patiently tapping fingers… 😉 *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  • Carrie Rubin

    Plenty to keep you busy. Here’s hoping all goes well. It’s amazing the contrasts in weather. So dry and at risk for fires where you are (and in California in the US), and severe, deadly flooding in South Carolina in the US. (“Biblical flooding” to quote the newspapers.) Mother Nature is a force to reckon with. We all need to take her seriously and prepare, just as you have.

    Like

    • acflory

      Yes, I heard about that flooding just last night. And I remember the California fires. We seem to follow California in a weird kind of time-delayed tandem. I think yesterday was the writing on the wall. Let’s hope everyone saw it. Blessedly cool today. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • laurieboris

    Feh! Stay safe! Meanwhile we’re little squirrels in New York, gathering nuts for winter.

    Like

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