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Australia has had a considerable number of hazardous bushfires, the Ash Wednesday Bushfires of 1983 is one of Australias most devastating.

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Introduction

Ash Wednesday Bushfires yr 10 jessica dimovski ASH WEDNESDAY BUSHFIRES The many natural hazards that have occurred over the years have varied from cyclones to droughts, however bushfires are the main hazard Australia is prone to. A bushfire is an out-of-control fire that burns bush, forest and woodland areas. Australia has had a considerable number of hazardous bushfires, the Ash Wednesday Bushfires of 1983 is one of Australia's most devastating. THE LOCATION: Over one hundred fires broke out between February 16th-18th 1983, eight of which were major fires. These fires swept across regions of VictoJ.Dimovskiria and South Australia causing widespread damage. Figure 1 below is a map of Victoria, the red representing where the fires were formed. The eight major fires were started in the following areas of Victoria: * Cudgee, Ballangeich and Framilingham * East Trentham and Mt Macedon * Otways * Belgrave heights and Upper Beaconsfield * Monivale * Branxholme * Warburton and * Cockatoo GEOGRAPHICAL PROCESSES: CAUSES An ignition flame point is needed for a bushfire to start. This ignition is caused naturally by lightning strikes or by a deliberate/accidental flame for example arson, camping fires or carless behavior. ...read more.

Middle

Figure 2 shows the cold front as it headed towards Victoria on February 16. When a cold front passes, the wind direction will change about 90 degrees and will also cause very hot, dry winds. Figure 3 and 4 illustrates the cold front changing the direction of the fire, causing the long side of the fire to suddenly become the front. WHY IS THE LOCATION PRONE Victoria is prone to the hazard of bushfires because during summer and autumn Victoria experiences hot, dry climate which causes the vegetation to dry out. Victoria's forests mainly consist of Eucalyptus trees, which contain large amounts of oil making these forests highly flammable. Southern Australia also experiences strong winds in summer, which result in increasing the damage of the fire. Figure 6 on the left shows the areas of Australia that are prone to bushfires. IMPACTS The impacts of a hazard when it strikes a town or region can be very dramatic. The impacts can be categorised into environmental, economic and social impacts. ENVIRONMENTAL The Ash Wednesday fires caused widespread damage to the environment burning over 210,000 square hectares of Victorian land in total and 21,000 in South Australia. ...read more.

Conclusion

There were also many health problems caused by the fires, both mental and physical. These health problems were caused from stress, smoke inhalation, asthma attacks and the trauma sustained. "It was just this bloody great force. It wasn't fire by itself. It wasn't just the wind. It was something different to that...a monster" was a statement made by John Baxter. The above statement shows how many residents may have reacted or felt about the fires. POSSIBLE STRATEGIES To protect Victoria and the environment from another disastrous bushfire, some management strategies need to be implemented. These could include: * Local residents should remove any fire prone objects in and around the home for example clearing leaves in gutters and raking and discarding dried leaves around fire seasons. * An education and awareness program could be developed to inform people on the risks on living in fire prone areas. Topics should include how and why people die in bushfires, how to insure their homes against fires and prevention measures. * A warning system should implemented to warn the community on incoming fires. To supplement this an evacuation drill should be put in place so the local communities know what to do in the case of a bushfire. * Local communities should become more involved in forest management and conservation to ensure the future protection of the environment for future generations. ...read more.

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