"Earth humans do not want to know the truth" - Ptaah
North Korea - January 13th, 2003 "...we'll turn the citadel of imperialists into a sea of fire."
Canberra - January 18th, 2003 "The fire would have been travelling at 200kmh, it was burning the dirt .."
The below press articles are in reverse chronological order. The main firestorm coverage from 2003 starts below them.
Sydney Morning Herald
Chiefs 'did nothing about' Canberra fire
March 12, 2007
Senior NSW fire officers decided to do nothing about a blaze which escalated and joined the firestorm that ripped through Canberra in 2003 claiming four lives and 500 homes, a former firefighter claims.
Peter Cathles, a former senior group captain of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says a meeting of fire chiefs in Queanbeyan on or around January 9, 2003, discussed the small fire ignited by lightning strike in the Brindabella National Park in NSW, about 25km from Canberra.
"One of the paid staff of the RFS said: `Oh, it's only shit country, it's burning pretty slow, why not let it burn' and they all seized on that as a brilliant idea and that was the end of the meeting," Mr Cathles tells ABC TV's Four Corners in a program to be aired on Monday.
"They actually decided by consensus to do nothing and I sort of lived with this a year or two and I ultimately wrote to the coroner, Maria Doogan, and told her this."
In a report of her investigation released in December last year, Ms Doogan laid responsibility for the Canberra firestorm squarely at the feet of the ACT government's Emergency Services Bureau (ESB) and in particular senior officials within the bureau.
She said "a failure on the part of the Emergency Services Bureau to aggressively attack ... the fires" was one of 15 contributing factors to the firestorm.
Phil Koperberg, who recently stood down as RFS commissioner in order to contest the March 24 state election, told Four Corners it was regrettable the Brindabella fire was allowed to get out of control, but denied his former staff were complacent.
"There may have been a range of individuals with separate opinions and there may well have been a nodding of heads ... but the team itself, the people who were ultimately responsible for making the decisions, never, never could be accused of any level of complacency in this and haven't been," Mr Koperberg said.
Mr Cathles says paid RFS staff told volunteers and locals not to fight the fire at McIntyre's Hut, while landowner Wayne West also tells the program he repeatedly had his calls for help rejected over a period of days.
"I think we could have controlled the McIntyre's Hut fire those first few days if we'd have had the OK to go ahead," Mr Cathles said.
Mr West is now suing the state of NSW and Mr Koperberg for the loss of his property.
"The only way we believe that the truth will be told is through legal action," Mr West told the program.
By January 17, as four major fires were threatening Canberra, the RFS attacked the McIntyre's Hut fire by launching a backburn from the air.
The backburn escaped and added to the final run of fires which engulfed Canberra on January 18, 10 days after Mr West first contacted the RFS about the McIntyre's Hut fire.
One of the volunteer firefighters involved in the backburn, Hugh Patterson, tells of his guilt.
"I felt like, well, I lit the fire that burnt down Canberra," he told Four Corners.
"I was there with hundreds of other firefighters lighting backburns and you know, somewhere or other those fires grew to become the fires that swept into Canberra.
"It's not a rational analysis of the history of the fire. But it is traumatic for me and it still weighs on my mind, as I guess a personal failure."
The Four Corners report also examines the threat posed by climate change which, by sucking moisture out of the ground, is helping to fuel "mega-fires", which are so big and wild they are impossible to control.
© 2007 AAP
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
ACT adopts 61 firestorm recommendations
February 27, 2007
The ACT government has agreed to implement 61 of the 73 recommendations made by Coroner Maria Doogan into the deadly 2003 Canberra bushfires.
"The government agrees with 61 of the 73 recommendations she put forward in her report," ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said.
But the government has refused to implement two key recommendations.
The Emergency Services Authority (ESA) will not be handed statutory authority, despite Mrs Doogan's recommendations.
"The ESA does not have to be a stand-alone organisation to maintain operational autonomy," Mr Corbell said.
Another of Mrs Doogan's recommendations was for the government to establish a separate courts authority.
Mr Corbell said the government could not create the authority because it would duplicate bureaucracy.
Mrs Doogan's report was highly critical of the government's actions in the days before the fire, saying Chief Minister Jon Stanhope had "either misunderstood or deliberately downplayed the seriousness of the situation".
However, the report contained no recommendations on how cabinet could better respond to any future emergency.
Mr Corbell accused Mrs Doogan of making political comments.
"The comments the coroner made were essentially political," Mr Corbell said.
"These matters will be resolved through the political sphere."
The Liberal opposition last week suspended standing orders in the territory parliament and brought on a vote of no confidence in Mr Stanhope.
Mr Stanhope is almost certain to survive the vote.
Opposition Leader Bill Stefaniak slammed the government's response to Mrs Doogan's recommendations.
"I think one of the main things coming out of the coronial inquest was the need for a statutory authority," Mr Stefaniak told reporters.
"The government has put the ESA back into the Department of Justice and Community Safety as an economy measure.
"We have not learnt the lessons of the past and it is disappointing, although not surprising, to see this government reject some of the key, fundamental recommendations made by coroner Doogan."
© 2007 AAP
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Stanhope may lose job over Canberra fire
February 20, 2007
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope could lose his job in a week, after a no-confidence motion was tabled over his handling of the 2003 bushfires.
Opposition Leader Bill Stefaniak launched the action in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday after Mr Stanhope refused to stand down following the release of a coroner's report on the fatal fires.
The report, released last December, lay much of the responsibility at Mr Stanhope's feet.
The devastating firestorm in 2003 killed four people and destroyed 500 homes.
"He chose not to resign. The only course of action we now have is to move this motion of no confidence," Mr Stefaniak told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Stefaniak said he had lodged the motion at the earliest possible opportunity, and that just happened to be the first day back after the long summer break.
Under the Self Government Act, raising a no confidence motion means the assembly must be shut down for seven days.
So, after just 25 minutes sitting, assembly business was adjourned until next Wednesday.
"We have a duty, and the assembly has a duty, to thoroughly investigate everything in relation to this fire - to hold the government of the day accountable, to hold the ministers accountable, to hold the chief minister specifically accountable, as the man at the top," the opposition leader said.
Mr Stanhope has again rejected the coronial findings, saying he has no case to answer.
"I certainly don't believe this motion is justified on this occasion," he told reporters.
"I certainly will be arguing against it, I will be making a case as to why this motion isn't justified on the facts and shouldn't be supported."
But he is still taking the debate seriously.
"You know, if this motion is successful I, of course, will resign.
"This really is about my future as Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory. I take it seriously, I don't take this lightly at all."
Mr Stanhope said the caucus had not yet decided who would speak on the motion when the assembly resumed next Wednesday, but he believed all Labor members would stand by him.
Transport Minister John Hargreaves has confirmed he will be supporting his leader.
"He has had my 150 per cent support since 1998 and he will have it for as long as he remains in this assembly, in any capacity he chooses," Mr Hargreaves told reporters.
"He has my unqualified support. I think he is the best leader this assembly has had since self-government."
And Mr Hargreaves believes all his Labor colleagues will support the chief minister.
"I would be devastated to think otherwise ... he has the most solid support from a Labor caucus in the history of the Labor party."
If all the Labor members vote against the motion it will be defeated, as they have the majority in the Legislative Assembly, with 10 Labor MLAs to seven Liberals and one Australian Green.
© 2007 AAP
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
They knew fire risk, but did nothing: coroner
Date: December 20 2006
Stephanie Peatling and AAP
ALISON TENER tried her best to save her family's house in the Canberra suburb of Duffy as several fires combined and raced towards the city on a searing summer day, January 18, 2003.
With her husband and children away, Mrs Tener told neighbours she was nervous, and she prepared her house and herself for the worst. Having done all she could, she climbed into her bath with some damp towels and water, plugged the tub and waited.
She was soon overwhelmed by smoke and died.
Handing down her report on the fires yesterday, the ACT Coroner, Maria Doogan, said the ACT government and the Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, had failed to adequately warn the public in the days before the disaster.
Two days before the fires reached the suburbs, she said, "the cabinet generally, including Mr Stanhope, knew a potential disaster was on Canberra's doorstep but did nothing to ensure that the Canberra community was warned promptly and effectively", Mrs Doogan said.
On radio on January 18 Mr Stanhope "either misunderstood or deliberately downplayed" the severity of the situation. He referred to the declaration of a state of emergency as "an administrative measure" and told residents "not to be unduly anxious or alarmed".
The report laid the main responsibility for the catastrophe - which killed four people, destroyed 500 homes and caused up to $1 billion of damage - on the ACT Government's Emergency Services Bureau and its senior officials. "There is no doubt the people of Canberra were unprepared for the firestorm … no one in authority told them to be prepared for it," Mrs Doogan found.
Warnings were "issued too late, and were inadequate, even misleading, in their content" leaving even those who knew how to properly prepare their homes without enough time to act.
The three other people killed in the fires - Dorothy McGrath, Peter Brooke and Douglas Fraser - died trying to save their homes.
Four fires in the ACT and NSW had begun on January 8, before combining and bearing down on Canberra. Mrs Doogan found the fires should have been attacked more aggressively earlier. But not enough resources were used, she found, and the job of firefighters was made harder by poorly maintained access trails and heavy fuel loads. Once the fires combined, there was nothing anyone could do to stop them.
Despite this, the public was not told of the threat, although senior emergency officials knew what might happen, Mrs Doogan said.
Among her 73 recommendations were that the Emergency Services Bureau be made a statutory authority; that the ACT and NSW Governments establish a formal plan to fight bushfires; that better backburning and fuel management be implemented; and that a taskforce be set up to ensure the recommendations were carried out.
Mr Stanhope criticised the report, saying it contained many inaccuracies. The comments relating to his role were not sustained by the evidence, he said. He did not intend to resign. The Prime Minister, John Howard, said Mr Stanhope had to be accountable. "I think Mr Stanhope has to address those criticisms … but it's his responsibility."
Peter Lucas-Smith, the ACT's chief fire control officer at the time, conceded there were "some things that may have been done differently", but he did not think further action "would have made much difference considering the unpredictable speed and the ferocity of the bushfires."
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Koperberg held ACT fire fears
March 16, 2004
Three days before a devastating firestorm destroyed parts of Canberra, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg feared the blazes would reach the city's suburbs, the ACT Coroners Court heard.
Mr Koperberg said his concern that a catastrophic event would occur led him to offer ACT fire control officer Peter Lucas-Smith assistance on January 15, 2003.
"I formed an opinion that if the forecast weather conditions were to materialise then the fires ... would have the potential to move in such a way and over such a distance to be a threat to reach the suburbs of Canberra," he told the court.
"It was my opinion, that were the conditions to prevail, there would be that threat and as a consequence I wanted to ensure as far as possible the area was resourced."
However, Mr Koperberg said Mr Lucas-Smith only asked for four taskforces of five tankers each with 24-hour capability and logistics support.
Mr Koperberg said he believed the request was light but he did not want to offend Mr Lucas-Smith by saying so.
"I felt the request was light if one was contemplating a worst-case scenario but as I have already suggested my view on a worst-case scenario may not have been the views of Mr Lucas-Smith," he said.
Four people were killed and more than 500 homes destroyed when a firestorm ripped through Canberra's south-western suburbs on January 18 last year.
By Daniel Lewis, Regional Reporter
The coronial inquiry into January's bushfire that started in NSW and contributed to the carnage in Canberra has vindicated the actions of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Rural Fire Service.
The report by the Deputy State Coroner, Carl Milovanovich, is the latest in a series of coronial findings that have made no adverse findings about bushfire management in the state's national parks.
The January fires killed four people and destroyed nearly 500 homes in Canberra, as well as blackening much of Kosciuszko National Park and surrounding farmland.
Many farmers and some volunteer firefighters in the affected areas have claimed that not enough was done to fight the fires when they first took hold and that they could have been more easily fought if there had been sufficient hazard reduction of parks land.
But Mr Milovanovich dismissed the "innuendo" that NPWS and RFS staff "sat on their hands and did little".
"Sight should not be lost of the fact that in NSW loss was limited to property loss only," he said. "The dedication, commitment and courage of our firefighters should never be questioned."
Of the most contentious blaze, the McIntyre's Hut fire that started in the Brindabella National Park on the afternoon of January 8 and struck Canberra 10 days later, Mr Milovanovich found it had spread rapidly and the decision not to send in fire crews to fight it directly was the right one.
"To attack the fire directly at that stage would have required the deployment of personnel into rugged terrain at night with little knowledge of the fire's likely behaviour or intensity on the ground," he said. To have done so "would be contrary to all the basic firefighting knowledge and would have placed . . . firefighters in potentially grave danger".
Regarding hazard reduction, Mr Milovanovich noted the McIntyre's Hut area of the Brindabella Range had been leased to the Commonwealth Government since 1943 and the parks service only took it over in 1996.
"I have no doubt that reduced fuel loads in the Brindabella Range may have provided an opportunity for a quicker response without necessarily placing firefighters at risk and with reduced fuel loads it may have been possible to attack the fire directly," he said.
But the coroner found that previous government and coronial inquiries had already recognised that hazard reduction "must be embraced and prioritised according to its location, fuel loads and potential to cause danger" and that this was being implemented.
The director-general of the NPWS, Brian Gilligan, welcomed the findings as a vindication of the decision to put firefighters' safety first and recognition of the complexities of hazard reduction.
"[Hazard reduction] is not the silver bullet . . . so many people want to present it as," he said.
By Ebony Bennett
The January bushfires that ravaged Canberra, killing four people and destroying more than 500 homes, could have been contained if the initial outbreak had been attacked more aggressively, an independent inquiry has found.
The damning report also said that poor communication between emergency services had hampered efforts to minimise the impact of the firestorm which struck the capital's suburbs.
The inquiry, headed by the former commonwealth ombudsman Ron McLeod, recommended increased fuel-reduction burns, four new rural fire engines for use on the urban fringe, an increase in aerial firefighting capacity and greater integration between the emergency services. It also called for a new authority to replace the much criticised ACT Emergency Services Bureau (ESB).
As the report was released angry volunteer firefighters yesterday warned that little had been learnt from the disaster.
Val Jeffery, fire captain at Tharwa on Canberra's outskirts, said hundreds of homes would be destroyed if a fire broke out on Black Mountain, where fuel levels had been building.
The inquiry found that if the initial fires in the Namadgi National Park on January 8 had been contained, the disaster that occurred 10 days later could have been avoided.
"The inquiry is of the view that the fires, started by lightning strikes, might have been contained had they been attacked more aggressively in the 24 or so hours after they broke out," Mr McLeod said.
The report criticised the ESB's operational command arrangements and found its communications capacity at the height of the crisis was limited by its construction and layout. It recommended that the ACT Government urgently improve the command facilities.
"The lack of early warning to the community about the fire threat was by far the greatest criticism expressed in public submissions to the inquiry," it said.
It found emergency services were aware that urban areas were at risk from approaching fires by 9.30am on January 18, but a state of emergency was not declared until 2.45pm that day.
There was inconsistent advice, with police advising residents to leave while firefighters were encouraging them to stay, it said.
The ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, accepted the report's criticisms. "All 61 recommendations will be implemented," he said. "I would be prepared to guess that the commitment I give today will cost us at least $20 million in the first year."
He declined to say when the new authority would replace the ESB, but said the position of interim commissioner would be advertised within two weeks.
The ESB executive director, Mike Castle, denied that the report was an indictment of its performance during the fires.
" I think if you read the McLeod report he actually says that it's improving the organisation and building on the efforts of the integration of services and taking it to the next logical step. So I don't think it's actually an indictment of the model that's being followed."
Mr Castle and Mr Stanhope warned that now was not the time to be complacent and that a public awareness campaign would begin before the bushfire season starts on October 1.
Fires that ripped through Canberra destroying 505 homes could have been stopped almost a week earlier if resources had been put into fighting them, an inquiry was told.
Peter Smith, a fire brigade captain who helped to fight the fires, said it was obvious some of the fires that ended up racing through Canberra could have been contained much earlier.
He said there was firefighting access to the most dangerous blaze, the McIntyre's Hut fire - the one that eventually hit Canberra.
A federal parliamentary inquiry is examining the causes of the January 18 fire that hit several of Canberra's southern suburbs.
Mr Smith said there was a window of opportunity about 10 days before the fire hit Canberra in which backburning could have been carried out.
He said later there were times when resources could have been directed towards some of the smaller fires, stopping them from becoming a firestorm.
"All of those fires would have been very readily controlled," he said.
"Not that they would have been extinguished, but they would have been slowed to the point a ground attack could be mounted."
Mr Smith said although the terrain was difficult, there was good access.
He said entry from north, south, east and west was available to the McIntyre's Hut fire.
"There's nothing easy about fighting fires up in the Brindabella Range," he said.
"It's not easy, but the access as it turns out to the fires that we're talking about was really quite good."
Mr Smith said his own brigade had been told to stand down on the day before the fire hit Canberra.
He said there was a chance to stop some of the fires as late as the night before it struck the city.
"Certainly, my brigade with three units wouldn't have been in a position to extinguish the fire," he said.
By Cosima Marriner
The devastation wrought by the Canberra bushfires would not have occurred if fires caused by lightning strikes 10 days earlier had been put out, a federal government inquiry heard yesterday.
The House of Representatives inquiry was also told that backburning and proper resourcing could have helped contain the fires, which destroyed 505 homes and killed four people on January 18.
Residents and volunteer firefighters complained that authorities ignored their local knowledge and failed to use them to help put out the first fires.
Local fire brigade captains who battled the Canberra blazes said the fires should have been extinguished when they were first sparked in the surrounding hills by lightning on January 8.
Val Jeffery, a bush fire fighting veteran with 50 years' experience, condemned the ACT Government for allowing the fires to spread.
"These fires should have been hit and hit hard on that first afternoon," he said.
The ACT Rural Lessees Association agreed.
"That's when the fires should have been put out. They had the opportunity and the resources and they chose to sit on their hands," a representative said. "They actually created the situation in my view."
Authorities were accused of failing to heed the lessons learned in past bushfires.
Mark Douglas, a resident of Duffy, one of the worst hit suburbs, said there was no evidence that any hazard reduction work had been done since fires in December 2001, which came from a similar direction.
Mr Jeffery said the climatic conditions that led to the January fires were no different to many other bushfire seasons Canberra had experienced. He warned that six months on, nothing had been done to reduce fire hazards.
"We could lose another four or five hundred houses this coming bushfire season, without any problems. There is a false sense of security."
Mr Jeffery called for the reintroduction of the Bushfire Council, which carried out regular backburning activities until it was replaced by the Emergency Services Bureau a decade ago.
Residents told of being abandoned by authorities when the fires struck.
Duffy residents recalled how they had been assured the fire was still an hour and a half away, only to find the firestorm on their doorstep less than 25 minutes later. "I . . . felt completely abandoned and alone," Mr Douglas said.
I cannot find any photographs of these trees. Can you help please?
Please scroll down for this story.
And WHY did THIS get no press coverage at the time?
Were I responsible for putting on a display of scalar weapons, I'd not only make sure that it was obvious that they were very powerful, but also that they could be very precisely controlled. I'd pick a huge round number, like 1,000,000 hectares - TEN THOUSAND SQUARE KILOMETRES - that I was going to burn, and then I'd see how close I could get to that exact figure before I brought in the rain and finally put it out. (How about within .00001%?)
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Victoria's weather remains on the side of the firefighters, who are for the first time expressing cautious hope about the million hectare, month-old blaze.
Cool, calm and occasionally damp conditions meant that when the firefront hits burnt back areas, it "gently extinguishes itself".
"We are hoping much of the fire will gently extinguish itself in places."
The fire has burnt out just under one million hectares - the official figure is 999,900 - since it was started by lighting strikes on January 8.
"We had about 12 millimetres in some areas today, and the difference this makes is amazing," Mr Lloyd said.
North Korean diplomats told an American governor in the United States their country had no intention of building nuclear bombs.
North Korea - 13.1.03 "...we'll turn the citadel of imperialists into a sea of fire."
Canberra - 18.1.03 "The fire would have been travelling at 200kmh, it was burning the dirt .."
Jan 13th, 2003
The day before, North Korea sent sharply mixed messages, vowing to "smash US nuclear maniacs" in a "holy war" while its diplomats told an American governor in the United States their country had no intention of building nuclear bombs.
"The claim that we admitted developing nuclear weapons is an invention fabricated by the US with sinister intentions," Yonhap quoted the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying.
The newspaper blamed the United States for the current crisis and warned: "If the United States evades its responsibility and challenges us, we'll turn the citadel of imperialists into a sea of fire."
In New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson - a former US ambassador to the United Nations - met North Korean Deputy UN Ambassador Han Song Ryol, who assured him the North wanted improved ties with the US and had no plans to build a bomb.
"He told me that in a dialogue with the US, North Korea would discuss America's concerns over verifying its nuclear program. I think that's positive," Mr Richardson said, ending three days of meetings with the North Koreans.
North Korea's defiance had been building for weeks but intensified on Saturday, when a series of leaders issued anti-American diatribes at a rally of one million people in the nation's capital - one vowing the North would seek "revenge with blood" towards any country that violated its sovereignty.
January 18th, 2003
Among those at the hospital was Warren Madden, 51, who ... was trying to round up his prized show horse ... between two fires around his property. "The fire would have been travelling at 200kmh, it was burning the dirt ... Before that, we thought we were all right," Mr Madden said.
In her 11 years as a volunteer firefighter, Fiona Wright said she had never experienced anything like it.
On Saturday the NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer from Lismore was alone in her truck when it was struck by a wall of fire, exploding the windows, ripping off the door and sending her running for her life to a bigger vehicle nearby.
Ms Wright was fighting fires threatening Namadgi National Park visitors centre in the early afternoon when the firestorm hit, driven by what she estimated were 100kmh winds.
So fierce was the fire and wind, which came in waves and kept swinging around changing directions, it sent trailers flying into the air, Ms Wright said. The fire front lasted three or four minutes, but the 50 or so crew were forced to huddle in their trucks for an hour because the wind kept changing.
Canberra's Government has rejected claims that it failed to prepare adequately for the firestorm that killed four people and destroyed 368 [419 at last count] homes in the worst bushfires to hit an Australian city.
The ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, said Saturday's 80 kmh gusts and dry country had produced a once-in-a-century fire that spanned 35 kilometres and engulfed suburbs on the city's bush-fringed west which could not have been prepared for.
"It was a holocaust of an extent that we simply did not and could not possibly have had the capacity to foresee or deal with," he said.
The ACT's Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, yesterday defended the response, saying 800 pumping machines would have been needed to deal with all the house fires. He described the fires as "a holocaust", a "once in a one-or two-century event".
The executive director of ACT Emergency Services, Mike Castle, said assets were built up appropriately given the apparent threat. The speed and ferocity of the firestorm in the south-west could not have been foreseen, he said.
The ACT fire chief, Peter Lucas-Smith, "The actual fire behaviour was ... quite unique. It is certainly not something that I've seen in 30 years of firefighting. It was a firestorm phenomenon.
( "If the United States evades its responsibility and challenges us, we'll turn the citadel of imperialists into a sea of fire.")
Michael Ibbotson watched from his Kambah home as fire raged about a kilometre away on Mt Arawang.
"A very strong wind came around the mountain and picked up those flames," he recalled. "It became what I'd vaguely describe as a tornado ... it was a big swirling object ... the whole sky was full of flame.
"It sounded like a jumbo jet was flying down our street. It probably moved 400 to 500 metres in under a minute."
The Australian National University neuroscientist looked on as the firestorm hit his neighbourhood. "The fireball sucked wind in front of it," he said, adding that once again the swirling wind assumed the shape of a tornado.
A nearby street had "every tree ripped out". "A large number of houses lost their roofs. Some had their windows sucked out and tiles sucked off their roofs."
Heading back to his home in Duffy, Martyn Przybylac drove straight into another violent whirlwind. "We were caught in a tornado of smoke and debris," he recalled. "It shook the whole car, the speed was tremendous."
He skidded as he battled to stop the wind from blowing the utility he was driving off the road. "It was scary. The fire hadn't hit yet, but the sky was black."
Geoff Crane, acting regional director of the ACT and NSW Bureau of Meteorology, has no doubt that Przybylac, Ibbotson and other witnesses saw tornadoes, whirling both inside and outside the fire front.
While tornadoes are normally born in the updraughts of thunderstorms, winds interacting with the rapidly rising columns of intense heat generated by the bushfires could easily have produced rotating masses of air.
"The physical effects are the same," said Crane, adding that tornadoes in the Canberra bushfires could have been rotating at up to 300kmh. "The fires were burning with such ferocity they would generate their own local environment."
Also, just as in a thunderstorm, lightning flashes were seen above the firestorm.
Testimony to the wind was everywhere. Trees not ripped from the ground had their trunks snapped like twigs.
A bicycle was found dangling from power- lines. The remains of metal garden sheds blown to bits in the gale became wrapped around trees.
Justin Leonard, a CSIRO fire scientist who is investigating property damage, says the tremendous winds, which tossed debris into the air, shattered windows and roofs, allowing embers to fly into houses.
"Wind damage appears to have been a significant factor," said Leonard, adding that flying embers, not direct contact with the bushfire flames, was the most common cause of houses burning down last weekend. "There is also evidence of house-to-house ignition. A lot of houses have been lost in rows - even four or five rows back."
Jim Gould, the leader of the CSIRO's fire behaviour group, said wind gusts which may have topped 100kmh, along with Saturday's heat, the drought and even water restrictions had conspired to ensure that even neatly mown lawns blazed.
At 3pm, according to Bureau of Meteorology sensors at Canberra Airport, the temperature was 36.9 and the relative humidity was just 8 per cent. Two hours later the humidity had sunk to 6 per cent. By 5pm it was 4 per cent. "That the lowest I've heard of for some time," said Gould. "When the relative humidity is less than 8 per cent it doesn't take much of a heat source to start ignition. And after 18 months of drought we have got very dry fuels."
In a normal year fallen tree branches retained enough moisture to "self-extinguish" when a fire arrived. But not after a year and a half of drought. "It just keeps on burning."
Gould said many homes destroyed fronted not dense bushland or pine forest but neatly mown lawns, well-kept parks and fields where any grass had been grazed down by pet horses.
"I thought they would be safe buffer strips," said Gould. But even the trimmed grass, dry from months of drought, burnt violently ...
"Embers coming off the grassy fields drifted into houses, the gardens and yards. People don't realise the size and magnitude of what happened here," Gould said.
He explained that a typical hazard- reduction burn generated about 500 kilowatts of energy per linear metre. Firefighters equipped with a tanker and a bulldozer could not be expected to contain blazes generating more than about 3,500 kilowatts per metre.
Asked about the energy produced by Canberra's inferno, Gould replied: "I'd say that in the pine plantations it was about 50,000 kilowatts per metre." He estimated the flames' temperatures at close to 1100 degrees.
Efforts by conscientious home owners to save water during the drought may also have helped the fires take hold in dry gardens.
Another strange phenomenon was noted. On Saturday, as Canberra was about to burn, Gould and a fellow scientist drove about 25 kilometres south of the city to study spot fires on grasslands by the Monaro Highway. Although north of Canberra strong northwesterlies were fanning the fires into the city, near Michelago the two encountered no wind. Smoke from the fires hung still in the air.
"It was dead calm, and pitch black," said Gould. "We needed headlights to write in our notebooks."
The scientists believe now that the updraught from the Canberra fires - the same convection currents that drove the tornadoes - formed a barrier in the sky, preventing the north-westerly winds reaching south of the city.
Gould warned that the continuing drought meant the disaster could easily be repeated. "It could happen again, in the Dandenongs or the Adelaide Hills, before this summer is over."
*the self described "scientists" your website author has communicated
with don't apparently believe Defence Secretary Cohen.
*the self described "scientists" your website author has communicated with don't apparently believe Defence Secretary Cohen.
Weather modification by longitudinally polarized electromagnetic interferometers and chemtrails over South Australia
This above photograph audaciously opens the Woomera webpage of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Our Chemtrails over Sydney page has been updated with striking new photographs.
Please note the parallel scalar striations just above the top of the bridge and also below the chemtrail.
For more on the background of this situation please read the following 1998 article by Billy Meier, proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be the genuine contactee of the Plejaren extraterrestrials, who repeatedly attempt to warn us about the results of our irresponsible actions.
HAARP - A Reckless Experiment!
"... ongoing HAARP experiments have been to blame for some time now for climatic changes which, in turn, have triggered worldwide earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and environmental catastrophes. Those in charge of the HAARP program deny, of course, that such testing is generating this turmoil. But the Pleiadians/Plejarans categorically state that this is the case. They further contend that HAARP will cause so much destruction, pain, suffering and devastation in the future that neither nature nor any living thing will ever be able to return to a normal state of equilibrium. The long-term effects will negatively influence everything on Earth, and recovery will all but be impossible."
"Such insanity can be seen in the annals of human history but it is routinely hidden from the people. In 1958, for instance, three atom bombs were detonated in the atmosphere to influence the weather. Within two years following this stupid action, an entire series of climatic catastrophes resulted. Three hundred and fifty thousand copper needles, each approximately 1-2 cm in length, were fired into the ionosphere in 1961. The result was that the Earth avenged herself by an earthquake in Alaska that measured 8.5 on the Richter scale, while in Chile a large portion of the coastline slid into the ocean."
Please read much more on the WORLD WEATHER WAR.