Case Study Summary_ Giuseppe

On February 7, 2009, now known as Black Saturday, the people of Victoria, Australia were warned of a record setting heat wave with temperatures of up to 115℉, or 46℃. These extreme temperatures came at the wrong time, as the vegetation in the area had mostly dried up due to a long standing drought. Winds of up to 56 miles per hour (90 km/hr) only added fuel to these literal fires, and the combination of the dry vegetation, the extreme temperatures, and the intense winds led to 47 different major fires. 

Map of Victoria, Australia

It was a human error that started the most deadly of the 47 fires in Victoria, as a faulty power line sparked a fire that would claim 119 lives. The location of these flames was only 37 miles north of Melbourne, one of the major cities in Australia, and the capital city of the state of Victoria. These flames were quickly blown over a nearby highway and into a forest igniting a large fire ball. Once this fireball was ignited it was too late for fireman to try and contain the flames and they too were forced to flee from the scene. This fire, renamed the Kilmore East fire, then spread quickly due to steep slopes and intense winds, racing through towns catching residents by surprise. While some residents tried to escape the flames in their cars, many were trapped in their homes. Unfortunately because of the fire’s size and temperature, even those that did manage to get on the road did not get very far as they were overtaken by the fire that reached 328 feet above the tree line and was hot enough to kill from 984 feet of radiant heat.

This map shows all of the land burned by wildfires in Victoria, Australia in the year 2009 alone. It is safe to say that the population was aware of what these fires were. It was the building codes and the warning systems- human errors which lead to so many deaths. However these human errors have been corrected as the Country Fire Authority’s website now requires better building codes, and offers information on ways to mitigate and prepare for fires as well as community programs.



2 thoughts on “Case Study Summary_ Giuseppe

  1. Wow! You would think that because this happened in 2009 that there would be a better warning system in place for the population. It seems like this fire caught a lot of people by surprise and I’m sure some people thought they could just stick it out and they would be OK. It sounds like this fire spread extremely quickly and became extremely hot. It is good that the fire authority is trying to correct mistakes made during the fire and educating people on what to do if this happens again. This was a very good summary that was quick to read and to the point with all the pertinent information.

  2. While reading this summary, I made notes of each factor and realized this is a perfect example of lack of mitigation in a fire prone area. First of all, this occurred in 2009 in a developed nation that has the skills and technology to maintain their infrastructure and keep power lines up to the mark. This faulty power line could have been fixed prior to this disaster occurring. The area being under a severe drought prior to this is a red flag to be aware of and to prevent wildfires as much as possible. The area described above had steep slopes and that day experienced high winds which is a perfect combination for fires to spread in dry vegetation. This summary is a perfect example of how humans can turn disasters into catastrophes, and how mitigation prior to disasters taking place could have saved lives and reduced damage.

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