The Flagstone fire was a longer running incident (than the Rathdowney fire) with crews attending over many days and as the fire, mapped here, came closer to very thick scrubby, inaccessible country with high fuel loads, it became very difficult to manage with strong winds impacting on the fire.
A very narrow track was cleaned up by a machine on the southern sector and an old track was used on the northern one. Conditions on the Saturday were mild in the morning but the wind increased during the day and we expected that it would spot over the narrow tracks regardless of the hard work of all crews. A weather forecast of 35kph E- NE winds on Sunday increasing to 40-45kph on Mon-Tues led the IMT to take the decision that if a spot over occurred and we couldn’t access it due to terrain and fuel loads, that we would let the fire run and send crews home with Greenbank to monitor. We knew that if the fire ran to the South West it would head to country that had burnt earlier at Undullah & Rice Rds area and if it went to the North West we had some time until it would come out to where crews could access it and manage the job. A local landowner also arrived and confirmed that there were no assets under any threat and that the was not of concern to the locals.
After lunch a spot over did occur on the Northern sector so we took the step of removing all crews and downgrading the incident. This may seem a bit unusual to some, however I believe we need to look at some fires and consider that the best action may be to do nothing and monitor the job and wait until the fire is safely accessible and it is in country where our efforts are more likely to be successful. This is going to be the call of the IMT for the job and will vary from fire to fire. This should not be taken as a criticism of these or other fires rather than something else to consider when we are looking at our options. As Mark, the Operations Officer on Saturday remarked, it was a bit strange to go home without controlling the fire.
Air Operations was utilised on each fire and provided great intel and mapping.
With respect to mapping, keep in mind that the IC can at all times place a logistics request with Firecom to arrange suitable mapping for a fire. This can provide photographic and cadastral mapping that will also show the topography of the area. Ask for larger maps for the IMP and smaller A3 or A4 for each appliance. The intel gathered by Air Ops can also be included as a layer identifying tracks, assets and current fire lines as well as possible control lines.
Again many thanks for the efforts of all brigades involved and for those that weren’t able to send crews but would have been able to assist in covering brigade areas where crews were away.
The rain was well received in our area and things may quieten down for a while