Well David, we've had the automated call from the RFS about catastrophic
conditions tomorrow so will leave here early tomorrow. I hope all is OK for
you and yours and from the maps I've seen you might be in a better position
than where we are.
Take care and stay safe and hopefully I'll be back reading once tomorrow's
foul conditions are over.
Holy cow, the lead story at the top of the hour on NHK World (from Japan)
was about the wild fires in Tasmania.
The danger continues for much of Australia. They were talking about high
temperatures of 42 deg C in Sydney!!!
Hope the Australian rec.gardeners are all safe and sound and keeping cool.
As the spouse and I discussed yesterday, I don't plan to complain about the
cold weather this winter at all--hot weather is far more dangerous. (And
there's been all too much of that in recent years.)
They had a record 41.8C there, the ABC weather said after a cold change late
today or tomorrow they could get snow. It's a hard land.
Yes and strong winds as well. Most of the State is rated as fire risk
"severe" or worse, where Fran lives is rated '"catastrophic". There are 90
odd fires burning already and once the wind gets up in the worst areas they
are expecting ember showers to run 10km ahead of the fire front. The flames
can burn horizontally and leap wide clearings, fire breaks etc directly.
Under such conditions the firefighters can do nothing but save themselves
until the wind reduces.
I haven't heard of one being purpose built. I have one by accident as my
house is built on a suspended concrete slab over brick foundations.
The point about knowing what to do in a fast moving situation is important.
We are encouraged to identify escape routes, to plan ahead, prepare the
ground and house and to make your decisions in advance not in a panic at the
end. You want to avoid making a last minute choice to flee and getting
burned in your car or staying to defend the indefensible. OTOH some houses
are saved by defenders who put out small fires which would otherwise take
hold. Not a fun choice.
that all makes sense.
and yes, not fun. i'm sure a lot can be
helped by designing structures with metal,
brick, concrete, etc. and perhaps even
sprinkler systems on backup power supplies
to keep the house and surrounding areas
wet during the fire storms. still i'd sure
not want to be there. smoke alone is tough
on my lungs. with the added heat i'd be in
Sure that's possible but not affordable in most cases. Along my street many
houses are 100+ years old, typically timber-frame weatherboard, corrugated
iron roofs and timber floors on brick piers. Not a very defensible house as
there are so many ways for the fire to get into the structure and once its
in, the house will be gone in minutes. People in rural communities cannot
afford to knock down and re-build.
For new houses the regulations are much more stringent about where you can
build and the price of steel is now not much more than wood and (most)
people are seeing the sense in sacrificing some amenity in outlook for
safety. There are still those who want to build in forests so they can hug
the trees :-)
if i were looking at the price of replacing a
home in comparison i think it would be worth
finding something that would help. i can think
of several alternatives that would be fireproof
against flying embers and not too expensive.
and i'm sure they pay for it and probably
a lot for extra fire protection too. are
fire insurance rates pretty high down there?
or is the government the insurer of last
Sure you can re-clad in iron or cementious planking (hardiplank) but that
doesn't get past the timber frame and the raised timber flooring and joists,
if the fire gets underneath you are gone. When these houses were built
people had no idea about fireproofing rural houses.
The rates are not that high and you don't hear of people being refused
cover. Unlike flooding where the insurers refuse cover if you are in a
flood-prone area. It seems they don't yet have a method of assessing fire
risk, there are no fire-prone maps like flood-prone maps, so the insured
community as a whole carries the risk. This whole area seems to have lagged
behind for some reason, building consent authorities have only got serious
about assessing fire risk of proposed buildings in the last 15 years or so
and that is done individually not on an area.
i think a coat of cement over metal lathe would
work against flying embers. around here cement board
also has fiberglass which isn't necessarily fireproof --
i'd use something else as a backing layer. if the
underneath is posts cemented into the ground then those
could be fireproofed against stray embers (clay, mud, ...).
it would also need to be enclosed to keep blowing
debris from collecting under the house so there is
no other fuel source. after enclosing it i would also
stack rocks and pack them with mud for an extra layer.
most areas have clay and rocks.
oh, ok. around here the government is insurer of
last resort for some areas and flooding, but they
are also finally getting smarter in encouraging
people to move out of the worst flood prone areas
instead of rebuilding. though it is still far from
perfect it's at least a step in the right direction.
i'm not going to be too surprised in the USoA to
find out that home fire proofing will become more
important as the climate gets hotter and dryer.
flying embers are different than actual
flames right up to the structure. dealing with
the surrounding area to keep the flames from
the structure only makes much sense if the
structure itself is going to be protected.
if the structure is sound it can be sealed
and coated with metal lathe, cement, aluminum
screening at the seams and edges that might
crack. windows, doors and roof might need
work or replacement, but those are still
less than the cost of a new home. tile floor
around the doors, take up the rugs, put the
exterior of the doors and windows flush with
the exterior of the house so that they will
not collect embers, make sure the roof is
sound and gaps caulked, etc.
mud, clay and rocks are often available as
fireproof materials. these are not expensive
things and within the skill set of most people
so the labor could be shared and the cost kept
an exterior sprinkler system would not be
cheap, but not beyond the means of some people.
compressed air kept indoors that can be released
when flying embers are in the air to keep them
from getting in cracks. not that expensive.
inspecting the house before the fire season and
checking when fire is a threat would be a good
thing too. making sure to seal up any cracks.
mostly a matter of taking the time, not expensive.
of course, but i also know it is common for most
people to not do things until they have to. e.g.
Yes, we are home again and only spent the one night away. Dunno how anyone
can live in a town and that night put us off ever moving back to one till we
are ready for a nursing home.
Things are OK here but it's still hot and extremely dry and the helicopters
are still going overhead with the water balls underneath. I doubt that
we'll have any problems unless the wind changes direction and starts to
really blow like it did the other day.
Even then we have the most important things still packed and near the door
nearest the cars and, as I said to the Butcher this morning, if the house
burns down its really just a form of extreme decluttering.
But I sure do wish it'd rain.
How 'bout you?
No local fires but getting smoke from one about 50km away, enough to fire up
the asthma. Very hot and dry, most fruit trees have dropped their fruit.
When my ship comes in I will have irrigation to every tree in the orchard,
until then I can't keep up with them when we have too many 35-43C days with
hot winds. The BOM says many parts of the Hunter are heading for 45C today.
I am keeping the water up to the veges, we did a bottling run of tomatoes
yesterday and more soon.
:-(( You have my sympathy. We are constantly dragging hoses ATM.
It's appalling. I was thinking this morning as a put a milk crate covered
with a towel over a wilting, struggling Vietnamese mint, that a shade house
might be required in order to grow veg in the future. I'm really startign
to ge quite worried aobut the future given our weather patterns over the
past few years. Not so much for me but certainly for my grandkids.
The BOM says many parts of the Hunter are heading for 45C today.
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