Bush fires in Australia — natural and controlled

This earth, I never damage.
I look after. Fire is nothing, just clean up.
When you burn, new grass coming up.
That means good animal soon,
might be goanna, possum, wallaby.
Burn him off, new grass coming up, new life all over.

Bill Neidjie - Bunitj clan.
Aboriginal traditional owner.

The first sight of fire burning on both sides of our road, even though far ahead, was quite uncomfortable.
Standing tall, dry grass and bushes were a good material for all-consuming flames.

Bush fires raging far ahead, Western Australia

Bush fires raging far ahead, Western Australia

We would have surely decided to stop or even turn around. Thankfully, bleak memories of an article in a brochure reminded us, that fires, created by lightning strikes, are an important part of nature's natural yearly cycle, having major influence on Australian environment.

But how the heck should you know if that hell around you is natural or not? Seems like there is nobody attending. Should we maybe call the fire brigade or the park rangers?
Yeah, we wish.
No mobile phone coverage was a deciding factor to continue driving forward. The decision was right, as it appeared that the fire is quite small near the side of the road, as there's not much grass or bushes.

Bush fire burning nearby the road, outback Western Australia

Bush fire burning nearby the road, outback Western Australia

Afterwards we found out that the fire is actually cleaning the country - old and dry grass burns to ashes and thus creates space for new and fresh sprouts, which is a good source of food for animals.
Trees, such as eucalyptus, have developed a natural resistance to yearly fires. There are no low branches, so the fire can't reach the crown of the tree and spread. The trunk gets burnt just a little bit, on the surface, but no serious damage is done.

I have to add that, at least in the Northwestern part of the country, only fires happening in the wet season are useful. While the area of the fire is enlarging, at the same time it is creating patches of burnt and unburnt land, as it can not expand to watery or wet places. Such burnt and empty places are in turn a natural barrier, preventing much larger and more destructive fires of the hot (dry) season to spread.

Indigenous inhabitants of the lands learnt the cycle is useful, and started to control the process themselves, adapting it to their needs.

Fires in Australian nature as a repeating cycle. By Alderson, Gangali and Haynes

Fires in Australian nature as a repeating cycle. By Alderson, Gangali and Haynes

Department of wildlife and parks took over later on, and are saying that the controlled burning is "of low intensity, and little risk to humans and most animals".

Still, if you're living in a countryside, and the burn is planned in your area, you'd better remember it, and be ready to flee.

For, in the local newspaper I am reading the fire brigade's comments, stating that "Department of wildfires and sparks" actually manages to mess things up sometimes.

 

Sign on the road, promising the aerial burn soon, Western Australia

Sign on the road, promising the aerial burn soon, Western Australia

 

 

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smth

That's something I'd never expect anywhere. Planed burn out. Pretty amazing.