Bush Fires /
Wild Fires

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Australian Bushfire History

1957 - Bush fires in the Blue Mountains area driven by gale force winds destroyed 25 homes, shops, schools, churches and a hospital.

1962 - around 7 fires in the Warrandyte, Montrose, Olinda and Mooralbark areas. Many houses were lost including at Warranwood.

1964/65 - Major fires occurred in the Snowy Mountains, Southern Tablelands and outer metropolitan area. The Chatsbury/Bungonia fire covered 250,000ha and destroyed the village of Wingello. Three lives were lost. In March the Tumut Valley fire burnt 80,000ha.

1968/69 - Widespread damage occurred over much of the eastern part of the State. Major fires at Wollongong burnt rainforest, destroyed 33 homes and five other buildings. Fires in the lower Blue Mountains were fanned by 100km/h westerly winds and destroyed 123 buildings. Three lives were lost.

1969/70 - The Roto fire burnt some 280,000ha in a three week period.

1972/73 - The south-eastern corner of the State suffered the worst fires since 1968 with over 200,000ha burnt. The Burrinjuck fire burnt 16,000ha and was reported to have traveled 19km in three hours, denuding a hillside in its path.

1974/75 - The severest season for perhaps 30 years in the far west with 3,755,000ha burnt, 50,000 stock lost and 10,170km of fencing destroyed. 1.5 million ha were burnt in the Cobar Shire in mid-December and 340,000ha in the Balranald fire. The Moolah-Corinya fire burnt 1,117,000ha and was the largest fire put out by Bush firefighters. Its perimeter was over 1,000 km.

1976/77 - In early December, 9,000ha were burnt and three homes destroyed in Hornsby Shire, and 65,000ha were burnt in the Blue Mountains.

1977/78 - In the Blue Mountains area 49 buildings were destroyed and 54,000ha burnt. Sydney suburbs up to 60km away were showered with fall out of blackened leaves.

1978/79 - Serious fires occurred in the Southern Highlands and South West Slopes regions. Over 50,000ha were burnt, five houses were destroyed and heavy stock losses were inflicted.

1979/80 - Following severe drought conditions over most of the State, major fires were widespread. In Mudgee Shire 55,400ha were burnt and one life was lost. 9,000ha were burnt in Warringah Shire and 14 houses lost. Fires occurred in the majority of council areas within the State burning a total of over 1 million ha.

1982/83 - $12 million worth of pine plantation was destroyed in southern NSW in a fire which burnt 25,000ha in only two and a half hours. The Grose Valley fire burnt 35,000ha.

1984/85 - This was the worst fire season for ten years in the grassed western areas of the State. On Christmas Day more than 100 fires were started by lightning strikes and 500,000ha burnt as a result. The largest fire was at Cobar in mid-January with 516,000ha burnt. During the season there were 6,000 fires State-wide, 3.5 million ha burnt, four lives lost, 40,000 stock lost and $40 million damage.

1987/88 - Over 115,000ha were burnt in the Bethungra and Warurillah/Yanco fires with three lives lost at the Bethungra fire. Major fires also occurred in the south eastern part of Kosciusko National Park where 65,000ha were burnt in the Park and surrounding areas.

1990/91 - In November fires raced through the council areas of Hay and Murrumbidgee, claimed nearly 200,000ha of prime grazing land, destroyed 100,000 sheep and hundreds of kilometers of fencing. Just one week later 80,000ha of land were burnt as fires claimed another 76,000 sheep and 200 cattle in Hay and Carrathool Shires. On December 23, hundreds of fires were reported across the State with eight emergency declarations made in the Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai, Cessnock, Hawkesbury, Warringah, Wollondilly, Gosford and Wyong council areas. Eight homes were lost in these fires.

1991/92 - On October 16, two lives were lost at Kenthurst in the Shire of Baulkham Hills. Emergency declarations were made for the councils of Baulkham Hills, Gosford City, Wyong Shire and Lake Macquarie. Nearly 2,500 bush firefighters battled more than 30 blazes around the State. 14 homes were destroyed.

1993/94 - In late December 1993, a series of fires began on the north coast and in the Hunter Region. As weather conditions continued to deteriorate, fire occurrence spread from the Queensland border to Batemans Bay. In excess of 800 fires started between December 27, 1993 and January 16, 1994. Over 800,000ha were burnt. All areas affected had previously been subject to wildfires, but never before had they burnt simultaneously. Resources from across Australia and New Zealand were utilised, resulting in a firefighting effort larger than any previously experienced in the country. At the height of the exercise over 20,000 firefighters were deployed. Four lives were lost and 206 homes destroyed.

2000/2001 - While the data is still being compiled, fires burn up and down most of the NSW's coast and deep inland? It is expected that the 2000/2001 fire season will be the worst on record so far in NSW?

Document: history.htm
Updated: 15th December 2006
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