No Fuel, No Fire

Guest post by Mike Jonas 25 Aug 2020

With wildfires devastating California, it may be worth while seeing if lessons can be learned from Australia. Connections between American and Australian firefighters go back many years, with each helping the other from time to time. There were devastating bushfires in Australia last summer, and, tragically, three Americans who had come to help were killed when their water tanker plane crashed. It’s now Australia’s turn to help California, and let us all hope there is a better outcome.

Gum trees burnt in the bushfires in The Blue Mountains in Australia

Submissions to Enquiries

Australia’s federal enquiry into the bushfires is not due to report until 28 October 2020 but the NSW [New South Wales] state enquiry report was published today. There were nearly 2,000 public submissions. Before I go into the report’s recommendations, it may be worth looking at a couple of the public submissions in order to understand the extreme level of public frustration with green tape and the way that the fire hazard has been allowed to grow ever larger over the years.

Valley Farmers Group of Lower Bago

This is a local farmers’ group in SE NSW. They open their submission with

“The 2019‐20 bushfire season is claimed by some to be the result of climate change, believed by others to be madeworse by climate change.”

, but they go on to explain that their opinion is rather different:

– – –

The Valley Farmers Group of Lower Bago believe the 2019‐20 fire season was a hot dry

summer,  made into the worst fire season this district has ever seen, by pine plantations, and negligent land managent by plantation managers and national parks and wildlife service.”.


“The Dunns road fire started in private pine plantation and ran through pine plantation, private land and national  park, burning more than 330,000 hectares, including around 74,000 hectares of pine plantation, and it was almost always only able to be slowed or stopped on private land.


Most public roads in this shire have a lot of trees and native vegetation along the sides, which is great if one thinks that every available meter of land must be a nature reserve, but when these areas are unmanaged jungles with trees hanging over the road, they become the reason fire trucks and emergency vehicles cant access areas which desperately need help.

There were 17 fire tankers which could have helped in this valley on new years eve, but which couldnt, because of burnt trees across the road.


We are demanding two hundred meter buffer zone/fire breaks around all plantations, along all public roads (both sides) [which] run through plantations, along all power lines, along all creeks and around any infrastructure on plantations such as phone/radio towers.


These people (npws) have used green ideology as a basis for land management for thirty years, and the 2019‐20 fire season has demonstrated the folly and criminal negligence of this approach. Virtually all the fires on the east side of nsw started on npws land, which was utterly destroyed, and burnt thousands of neighbors out, for which it seems there are no consequences, and if npws are allowed to continue their madness, no lessons will be learned, nor constructive changes made.


The release of the Keelty report into irrigation water indicates the river flows in the murray‐darling system have halved over the last 20 years. We assume the alleged experts in the media and government will attempt to blame climate change, the Prime Minister and probably Donald Trump, but an objective look will certainly reveal that pine plantations have played their part in depriving river systems of water.

– – –

I rather liked their last sentence.

Timber NSW

Timber NSW (TNSW) is the peak representative body for NSW sawmilling and processing, private native forest managers, harvest and haul contractors and forestry professionals.

Theirs was quite a long submission, but maybe the crucial part was:

– – –

Three months on since the last of the fires ceased, there has been no tangible progress in quantifying the impacts and the long-term effect on timber resources. The efforts of the Forestry Corporation of NSW have been directed to addressing the heavy demands of the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). This is political pressure at its worst. The EPA have prevented most harvesting in unburnt forest and are making harvesting in burnt forest economically unviable due to extreme regulation. The “stand-off” is resulting in the slow death financially of the native forest industry.

Repetitively throughout the fire front from September 2019 to February 2020 the same story was being told – arguments between agencies as a fire front approached on who would be in control of the fire; as fire raced towards houses and farming/plantation land – arguments between agencies on who controlled the fire and how long it would take to gain a permit to put in a firebreak – two days for a permit as the fire raced down and burnt two houses – agencies were still arguing about control and threatening anyone who took immediate and decisive action to prevent the fire from gaining ground.

The real stories were never told by the media or by government as it might tarnish the image of the agencies as heroes.

– – –

NB. It is important to distinguish between the agencies and the local people actually fighting the fires.


The NSW report, released today, made 76 recommendations. In my view, that’s probably about 71 too many, but the state government has said they will implement all 76. After an introduction which included a standard genuflect to climate change –

“Climate change as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions clearly played a role in the conditions that led up to the fires and in the unrelenting conditions that supported the fires to spread, but climate change does not explain everything that happened.” – The recommendations begin:

– – –

Recommendation 1

[.. 18 bits of bureaucratic stuff ..]

Recommendation 19

That Government re-commit to the current, regionally based approach to planning and coordinating hazard reduction activities across all tenures through Bush Fire Management Committees but ensure that it is actually being implemented [..]

Recommendation 20

That Government, noting that hazard reduction targeted in proximity to assets is on balance more likely to provide help than hinder, should: a) support local councils and partner agencies to implement more comprehensive hazard reduction at a local level around towns/cities, communities and local infrastructure assets, and provide incentives for communities to organise themselves to prioritise and implement local hazard reduction initiatives. [..]

[5 more waffly recommendations about hazard reduction]

Recommendation 26

That, in order to increase the respectful, collaborative and effective use of Aboriginal land management practices in planning and preparing for bush fire, Government commit to pursuing greater application of Aboriginal land management, including cultural burning, through a program to be coordinated by Aboriginal Affairs and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment working in partnership with Aboriginal communities. This should be accompanied by a program of evaluation alongside the scaled-up application of these techniques.


[.. 50 more bureaucratic recommendations ..]

– – –

The significance of the recommendations referring to Aboriginal practices is that before the Europeans arrived, the Aborigines burned all the time wherever they went. Because they burned so often, the fires were “cool” fires and didn’t wipe out the huge areas that fires do today. The result was that the burning followed a patchwork pattern. Most of the areas that are now thick eucalypt forest were then grasslands with trees, thanks to these practices.

It’s different this time

There have been well over 50 public bushfire enquiries in the time that Europeans have lived in Australia. It sometimes feels like virtually nothing ever came of those enquiries. Every time there is a major bushfire, houses and lives are lost.

But the 2019 fires were so severe – almost as severe as the fires of 2009, 1983, 1939, 1851 and maybe a few others – that everyone realises that it’s different this time: governments are going to have to change things so that it can’t happen again.


I listened to the government minister’s press conference this morning, following the release of the state government report with its 76 recommendations. The very first mention of hazard reduction was in the first question after the minister finished speaking – the minister had managed to give a complete run-down on the report without once mentioning hazard reduction.

If it really is different this time, there’s no sign of it yet. Did you notice that Recommendation 20 above said “hazard reduction targeted in proximity to assets is on balance more likely to provide help than hinder“? One of the basic laws of physics is No fuel, no fire, and these clowns say “on balance” and “more likely”! Now maybe I’m being unduly cynical, but I’m going to have to see some real change before I can accept that it’s different this time.

Curiously, there’s a USNews report, Australian State to Make Landowners Clear Fire Hazards, citing Reuters, which says

“Australia’s most populous state said on Tuesday it will compel owners to clear their land of flammable material as it endorsed 76 recommendations from an enquiry into deadly bushfires.”.

What is curious about this report is that the 76 recommendations make no mention of compelling landowners to clear land. The nearest it gets (unless I missed it while reading all 76 recommendations twice) is in Recommendation 28, which can perhaps be summarised as “bla bla bla”. It says:

“That Government [..] should immediately: – prepare [..] a model framework and statutory basis for the establishment of an enforcement, compliance and education program which adopts a risk-based approach to routine inspection of local bush fire prone developments to ensure that every local development on bush fire prone land is prepared for future bush fire seasons in accordance with bush fire protection standards of the day, that account for worsening conditions

– ensure local government is resourced to enable effective audit, enforcement and compliance powers in respect of local developments and assets on bush fire land


Are there lessons to be learned from the Australian experience, for California? Maybe, but not I think from today’s NSW report.

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August 27, 2020 10:26 am

No fuel, no fire is also an apt ditty for why Canadian courts on 24th August dismissed M. Mann’s protracted legal manouver against T. Ball with prejudice & assessed costs. By litigating, yet absolutely failing to provide relevant court ordered data to fuel the law suit for the defendant’s case, as long ordered by the judge, that fire has simply gone out.

Reply to  gringojay
August 27, 2020 11:22 am

I think that was August 24 last year. The latest news is some slight movement in Mann’s suit against Mark Steyn. link

Reply to  commieBob
August 27, 2020 12:22 pm

Wrong link Bob. I wanna read that.

Reply to  commieBob
August 27, 2020 12:48 pm

link Dangnab it!

Reply to  commieBob
August 27, 2020 4:03 pm

Jeez Bob, dont you start with the circular arguments!!!

Reply to  DavidF
August 27, 2020 6:16 pm


August 27, 2020 10:48 am

The new wilfire report is the old report with the date changed. Politicians must not read them because the forests remain natural.

Another issue in CA is people building homes too close to forests. The firefighters have to check all houses for residents before fighting the nearby fires which wastes a lot of time.

Another issue in CA this year is that Covid infections sharply reduced the eligible nothern California prison population who could get out temporarily for fire fighting. Most people don’t realize that nonviolent prisoners can get out for a while to be on a fire crew … which must be an awful job but I suppose it’s better than being locked in a cell.

HD Hoese
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 27, 2020 12:23 pm

As to “natural” this is one of the breakthroughs that NOAA is now celebrating. Paraphrasing but now since [] “Scientists were now able to understand how the ocean and atmosphere interacted with each other to influence climate. ” therefore– [] “The model’s simplicity and its ability to accurately identify ecological relationships have revolutionized scientists’ ability worldwide to understand complex marine ecosystems.”

The literature is huge, but the fisheries and ecology part I read does not agree with this, however that is what has been widely going on for all habitats, oceans later in the game. Not new for the environment it was called “nativism” decades ago, the term originally applied to cultures. Just like the fuel necessary for fire, fish are the ocean’s “fuel.” Biomass rules over production and other “ecosystem services.”

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 27, 2020 12:31 pm

Regarding “ …people building homes too close to forests” in California, I look back at last year’s fires started by power lines. People build deep into forested or scrub lands, therefore expecting/demanding that the utilities supply them with electricity. Then they blame the power company for the fires.

Along the lines of “no fuel, no fire,” In the case of CA, I would add “no ignition source (i.e., power lines) no fires (other than lightning or pyros). Granted, better right-of-way and equipment maintenance by the utilities would help, but it is development into these areas that is the indirect cause. It’s like people moving close to an existing airport, then complaining about the noise.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Pflashgordon
August 27, 2020 12:39 pm

Homes too close to forests? Do you mean the homes in Santa Rosa (est. 1868), Santa Barbara (est. 1782), and Chico (est. 1860), LA, Vallejo, and dozens of other cities? Are those homes too close to your precious untouched, unmanaged, overgrown, and fuel laden forests? What other CA cities would you like to see depopulated? Are you suggesting that convicted felons could be used to drive the homeowners out?

Of course, those cities have been residential for over 13,000 years. The aboriginal indigenous residents managed the vegetation for all those millennia even though they were illiterate, unsophisticated, and un-woke. Today’s CA residents are different; they are way woke, much more touchy-feely, and wisely prone to mass wastage of the landscape via neglect (btw, it wasn’t powerlines this time.)

How handy it is to have the wonderful excuse that its somebody else’s fault for living in a home too close to the fuel. Darn those thousands of people whose homes burned down last week. Serves them right.

(Do I really need a sarc tag?)

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 27, 2020 12:33 pm

Homes too close to forests? Do you mean the homes in Santa Rosa (est. 1868), Santa Barbara (est. 1782), and Chico (est. 1860) and dozens of other cities? Are those homes too close to your precious untouched, unmanaged, overgrown, and fuel laden forests? What other CA cities would you like to see depopulated? Are you suggesting that convicted felons could be used to drive the homeowners out?

Of course, those cities have been residential for over 13,000 years. The aboriginal indigenous residents managed the vegetation for all those millennia even though they were illiterate, unsophisticated, and un-woke. Today’s residents are different; they are way woke, much more touchy-feely, and wisely prone to mass wastage of the landscape via neglect.

How handy it is to have the wonderful excuse that its somebody else’s fault for living in a home too close to the fuel. Darn those thousands of people whose homes burned down last week. Serves them right. (Do I really need a sarc tag?)

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
August 27, 2020 1:15 pm

Sorry for posting the above twice. Some kind of digital glitch happened.

Perhaps the fire problem is not enough Central Planning by the Population Control Authorities. If only they were allowed to drive people like cattle, then we wouldn’t need to manage the fuels.

JimH in CA
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
August 27, 2020 7:23 pm

The 2 biggest fires burning now would be burning with or without homes nearby.
It was large lightning storms that ignited the dry, tall, annual, native grasses.
These grasses start growing with the first seasonal rains in October or November. By May the rains have stopped, the grasses have produced seed for next year, and die, long before the weather turns hot.
The hot summer weather, starting in June, dries these grasses, which can now be ignited by a small spark from a mower .
The only way to prevent these fires is to prevent their ignition, or wipe out the grasses and replace them with much lower growing strains….probably an impossible task and environmentally ‘illegal’.
BTW, most of the trees in the low foothills are Blue Oaks, and are fire resistant. Check the background on the next news clip that is on-scene and note the nice green trees and the black ground around them.!

Reply to  JimH in CA
August 28, 2020 2:20 am

and with intense periods of winter rainfall, followed by long periods without rainfall, you now have a situation where the grass grows quickly and to a greater volume, then efficiently dries out, creating ample fuel for fires.

Then again if you have a lot of trees dying because the beetle which kills them survives the winter, more fuel for fires.

It is ridiculous to state that only lack of forest management causes more, larger fires.

The California climate has clearly changed to wetter winters, drier summers, more drought.

In passing I note Sweden ahs one of the most long running and intense forest management regimes in the world: and in recent heatwaves, record fires.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  JimH in CA
August 28, 2020 7:07 am

“Clearly”, Griff? There’s that word again.

Here’s a quote from the article above from people who have the same trouble telling reality from fantasy that you have:

From the article: “Climate change as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions clearly played a role in the conditions that led up to the fires and in the unrelenting conditions that supported the fires to spread, but climate change does not explain everything that happened.”

“Clearly” clearly doesn’t mean the same thing to different people. You guys are confusing “clearly” with speculation, seeing as how there is no evidence for “clearly”.

Got any evidence, Griff? Greta says she can see CO2. You say you can “clearly” see the effects of human-derived CO2 on the Earth’s weather. Based on what?

Reply to  JimH in CA
August 28, 2020 7:36 am

What is obvious to griff, remains less so to anyone connected to reality.

Trees are killed by the beetles because there are too many trees fighting over the same resources, resulting in stressed out trees. There is no relationship between beetle kills and winter temperatures. (Of course winters aren’t getting milder, but griff has never let reality get in the way of his opinions.)

As to his claim that winters are getting wetter and droughts longer in California, like everything else griff knows, this also isn’t so.

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 28, 2020 7:55 pm

There has been no climate change in CA during the record-keeping period. Hence, we can be sure that “climate change” is not responsible for recent fires.

August 27, 2020 10:52 am

The snippets you presented were correct. However nothing will change as long as the same bureaucrats are forever in power.. and I mean power. They aren’t elected and can have their own personal agenda without repercussions.

My suggestion is to time limit those in decision making positions and require they be reappointed. Another option would be to time limit regulations to keep it out of the courts for extended periods of time. If a suit is pending when the regulation expires, it automatically is dismissed.

Reply to  rbabcock
August 29, 2020 8:23 am

In the US you can see the entrenched throwing hissy fits over TRUMP!. Large numbers of “Republicans” of the insider class are signing letters of support for Biden. Pelosi is truly becoming unhinged as seen on recent interviews. Of course the DC Bureaucracy is fully against TRUMP!.

I am hopping that TRUMP!, in his second term, truly begins to thin the herd of grif(f)ters who feed from the trough of their self sustaining excessive regulations. You know, they create the hoops to jump through while in power, then become lobbyists because they know who and how to negotiate the hoops, if sufficiently reimbursed for their efforts.

Years ago, while working for a code enforcement agency of a city government, while the city manager was determined to get ride of us, we were directed to answer a series of questions that appeared to me intended to provide ammunition for our dismissal. One question was regarding elected officials and what we thought they thought were for. My answer: To punish their enemies and help their friends. That is what all politicians see as the purpose of government and the bureaucracy.

BTW: Trump IS NOT a politician, he is a businessman. I truly believe he will drain the swamp second term. Although it has not been mentioned yet, I think he will push for the Fair Tax , to eliminate the government’s ability to track EVERY income tax payer’s every monetary transaction, eliminating the use of tax return information for political purposes. See Romney in 2012 and TRUMP! for examples of the same. The democrats have stated that they will release TRUMPS! tax returns if Biden wins.

August 27, 2020 11:07 am

The most logical and accessible places to create cleared fire breaks is alongside roads.

In the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria, the fire trucks were outflanked by the bushfires using the un-managed roadside bush as fire wicks.

Local community service groups in our shire used to collect fallen fire wood from rural roadsides each autumn for the elderly and disadvantaged in local communities.

This highly helpful assistance was subsequently verboten by greenie politicians & bureaucrats, creating a lose / lose / lose result for communities and the environment.

Reply to  Mr.
August 27, 2020 4:09 pm

It is important to understand the ALL Victorian municipalities and the state road authority have bushfire management plans.
These plans outline what roads need clearing and what procedures to follow.
However, there are green roadblock people in all levels of government that don’t allow their own departments policies to be implemented.
Here in Australia, the Princess Highway in highway number 1.
Highway 1 is the main route through the fire prone east Gippsland. It’s beautiful driving through all the trees, But has for decades had the requirement to clear fence to fence and in some places it is supposed to be a fire break more than 100 m wide.
BUT IT WASNT CLEARED when fires hit last summer and it was closed for months.
Yes HIghway 1 was closed. How embarrassing.

Dyspeptic Curmudgeon
August 27, 2020 11:39 am

Speaking of ‘Mann’ing up, does anyone know anything about Dr. Ball’s progress in having his costs assessed, so he can register a judgment for that amount?

Sweet Old Bob
August 27, 2020 11:51 am

“Are there lessons to be learned from the Australian experience, for California? ”

Stupid is as Stupid does ?

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
August 27, 2020 12:30 pm

Actually, I think it’s the other way around, and I’ve lived this. After the big 1981 Oakland Hills fire, it was mandatory to clear scrub away from your house by 90 feet. I live in a less fire-hazardous area now, but people I know get ticketed by the stealth tax jobsworths, while they’re away from the house.

The wild forests and scrub are a completely different story, but what’s a few murders and manslaughtering when you need to get votes by phony-planet-saving?

Defund mental midget politicians.

Paul Johnson
August 27, 2020 12:15 pm

There are only two ways a tree leaves a dry land forest; as lumber or as smoke.

Curious George
Reply to  Paul Johnson
August 27, 2020 12:42 pm

Some trees never leave. They build “soil carbon”.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Curious George
August 27, 2020 3:46 pm

Not so much in dry land. You can’t fungus to grow in dry wood, termites can only do so much. My native Minnesota it takes a tree left on the ground over thrity years to rot, even then in a very dry year it will burn. One area where i use to hunt in 1995 a straight line wind blew most of the trees down, mixed hardwoods, to this day you are hard press to traverse the area, the trees are still on the ground. Now in my adopted Arizona dead trees never become soil carbon, even in a fire.

Curious George
August 27, 2020 12:17 pm

This report (and the discussion so far) never mentions the word “responsibility”. A responsible party was found for the 2018 California “Camp Fire” which destroyed the town of Paradise. It was the Pacific Gas and Electricity Company (PG&E) , now bankrupt as a result. Undoubtedly, this time the responsible party will be Saint Peter.

Reply to  Curious George
August 27, 2020 12:35 pm

My money’s on Thor – irresponsible, but good luck getting him in civil court:

comment image

Windy Wilson
Reply to  Curious George
August 27, 2020 1:05 pm

Pigs, Greed & Extortion is bankrupt? Which one? Just protection from creditors or will they be reorganized?

Joseph Zorzin
August 27, 2020 12:31 pm

If CA had a huge market for woody biomass- for chips and pellets- for energy in power plants and home use of pellets and even some office/commercial buildings- that would reduce the fuel available for these wild fires. That’s what Trump was trying so say when he clumsily said they should manage and rake the forests there. Because he said it in his usual clumsy way- he was ridiculed. If people can get past his clumsy way of talking they’d see that he’s often right on many issues. He just doesn’t have the intellectual training to speak in an elegant way like all the phony, lying, hypocritical politicians out there. Also keep in mind that a woody biomass power plant provids base load power. But, it’s mistakenly thought of as just another “renewable energy”. It is indeed renewable and it is indeed providing base load power. Even if all the forests in North America were managed to produce some woody biomass (as a byproduct of growing timber)- sure, it wouldn’t go far to reduce fossil fuels- but this would stimulate a huge expansion in the timber industry- which would lower the costs of all wood products. Michael Moore was wrong including woody biomass in his latest video. The guy shown sneaking around the biomass facility in VT is a well known forestry hater. I’ve had debates with the guy. After I commented on his web site he called me. I asked why his web site shows only very bad logging jobs- mostly huge clearcut wetlands in the US southeast. I pointed out that that’s not at all typical of forestry projects yielding biomass. His reply was, “I’m an activist so I don’t need to tell both sides”.

August 27, 2020 12:33 pm

200M easement from all roads, power lines, creeks and infrastructure seems rather excessive. That amount of land would quickly add up. I would think the max tree height would be a reasonable buffer, say 30M or so.

Reply to  WR2
August 29, 2020 9:00 am

I would guess that the 200 meters was a starting point for negotiations. Let them cut it in half or to one quarter, and it would be enough to be effective.

In the US Pelosi started at close to 4 trillion for the next round of covid stimulus. With the senate at 1 trillion both her and senate minority leader Schumer stated we “meet us half way” at 2.2 trillion and not a penny less. Their 3.6 trillion number was only for negotiations. The republicans in the senate are now around .6 to .8 trillion, and TRUMP!’s people are talking about 1.2 trillion max, 1/4 to 1/3 of the democrats wish list.

Pelosi stated in a press briefing that the republicans need not come back to the “negotiations” until they agree to 2.2 trillion. I guess no new stimulus until after the election.

August 27, 2020 12:39 pm

Sounds like California and Australia are actively competing for which government can be most negligent in its management of public lands. As a lifelong California (since 1961) I can only say California (and the Feds) do a horrific job of managing public lands, brush is allowed to grow uncontrolled, proper fire breaks are not maintained, and private owners are allowed to let their properties gather deadwood, brambles, dry undergrowth for 20-30 years without clearing. We have created natural fire bombs waiting to be ignited. The recent lightning storms have lit it up and the out of control results are testament to the poor management, nothing to do with “climate change” at all.

Curious George
Reply to  scott
August 27, 2020 2:26 pm

Public lands are maintained for spotted owls. They nest in old hollowed trees.

Reply to  Curious George
August 27, 2020 6:04 pm

Who eventually die and become extinct when the uncontrolled wildfire comes thru …. the law of unintended consequences.

August 27, 2020 1:02 pm

“Aboriginal land management, including cultural burning”

The problem with control burns in the age of climate change is their co2 emissions. This is the climate change catch 22 for forest fires.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
August 27, 2020 2:11 pm

“The problem with control burns in the age of climate change is their CO2 emissions. ”

Yet they claim carbon neutral for burning biomass…

… and burning US timber in Drax power station in the UK.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
August 27, 2020 6:10 pm

Yes by miracle emission control laws ever got up it then sets up a clash in the law. The finding at law will say not doing burn offs immediately puts peoples lives in danger and the other says burning off puts people lives in risk 50-100 years in the future. Lawyers will be making bank and having fun for years.

steven c lohr
August 27, 2020 1:09 pm

If California is going to do anything before it all burns, the state needs to get on it with a lot more energy. They are very poor learners. Two years ago I was looking at the hillside “landscaping” surrounding houses in the areas in Oakland, California that burned back in 1991. That devastating fire will be repeated unless a broad and concerted effort is made to reduce the fuel load. The overgrowth is heavy, close and tinder dry. It could go up at any minute and with those hillside locations, escape will be for a very lucky few.

John in Cairns
August 27, 2020 2:04 pm

The elephant in the room that nobody in authority wants to notice, is cooling of the Southern Ocean .Why is anybodys’ guess,but cooling is happening particularly in the Great Australian Bight.Without an increase in wind strength,lower evaporation should be the result.Lower evaporation equals less cloud/humidity equals drought.Climate change it may be,but not the kind everyone’s looking for.

August 27, 2020 3:22 pm

The problem in California is the same as in Australian states such as Victoria and NSW.
All levels of government have have , clever, experienced, non-political people who actually care for the community. WRT ato fire management theses people know what to do. Both strategic and tactical plans have been prepared. However within theses same government authorities have significant amounts of political motivated green staff who are nice and friendly, but are continuously trying to “roadblock “ everything THEY deem environmental vandalism.

August 27, 2020 3:28 pm

This idea of returning to aboriginal ‘firestick’ farming methods is a furphy foisted by the greens onto unsuspecting communities. Firstly aboriginal people primarily set the bush on fire to flush out animals ( easy hunting ) or to encourage regeneration ( green shoots) which bought animals to the area ( easy hunting), it had nothing to do with land management. Their other reasons for starting fires was to create and clear tracks and warfare between tribes. Early settlers wrote about and witnessed terrifying fires started by aboriginal people . Secondly aboriginal people did not have to contend with rabbits. The introduction of rabbits into the Australian environment in 1830 decimated vast areas of the country side and probably made it more vulnerable to fire. This happened because the rabbits ate out the understory which allowed the eucalypts to become weed species. These magnificent trees are firebombs as people in California and Spain have discovered. Unfortunately we do not know what plant species have been lost, nor do we know how they fitted into the Australian landscape. We cannot go back and replicate pre colonial vegetation and think we can fireproof the countryside.

Paul Massey-Reed
Reply to  Chris*
August 27, 2020 6:38 pm

Vic Jurksis wrote his first book on “Firestick Ecology” which documents Australian aboriginal use of fire and how the forest structure, flora and fauna have changed since the withdrawal of the fire stick ecology and then hazard reduction practices of land mangers since the 1980s.
Vic has over 50 years experience of working and studying Australian Forests. He has held many positions from Forester, District Forester, Research Forester and Chief Silviculturist. The old adage no fuel no fire is still relevant.

spangled drongo
Reply to  Chris*
August 27, 2020 7:24 pm

Yes Chris, and another major reason was because aboriginals who had no clothes or bedding could not live or hunt in the predominantly rainforest areas that were full of ticks, leaches etc and too thick to ever throw a boomerang so they spent 50,000 years trying their best to remove them by burning them at every opportunity.
Who can blame them?
But they shouldn’t claim that it was for “environmental” reasons.

Reply to  Chris*
August 27, 2020 7:55 pm


It doesn’t matter a damn what motivated aboriginal burning -although anyone who has actually lived in fire-prone bush would understand why aborigines would burn to reduce fire risk – what we need are the RESULTS.

No. Rabbits cannot be blamed. Regular burning opens out forests, in part by thinning eucalyptus regrowth. It is droughts and severe fires that promote dense “wheat field” regeneration events.
Oh and BTW, the same dense understory of acacia and shrub species that you imagine is the solution was almost completely absent prior to the introduction of rabbits. That understory is the first to dry off during a drought, increasing both the overall available fuel load and the “ladder” fuels that promote fire intensity and lead to lethal crown-fires.

The “terrifying” fires that the early settlers experienced? The records from the Sydney settlements state that nobody died and very little was burnt other than grass and crops. No helicopters, no big red or orange trucks…. just men with green branches and they did better thsn we do today with all our gear.

August 27, 2020 3:33 pm

Road clearing.
Road clearing has always been recognised as being important.
The need to provide different levels of clearing based on the importance of the road has been known And REQUIRED for decades.
I live in Victoria, Australia and am quite familiar with the strategic documents associated with road clearing for bushfire protection.
To the best of my knowledge, similar NSW and Californian documents are virtually the same.
The above SAN Diego fire code example is quite old but Is very similar to Victoria’s.

The key issue is even if we have these codes, the green infection at all levels of government stop us from following them.

August 27, 2020 3:45 pm

“We are demanding two hundred meter buffer zone/fire breaks … along all public roads (both sides) …”

That’s what they legislated for in medieval England, though then the fear was of bandits not environmentalists. Though you could argue that the latter are just a sort of modern bandit.

John in Oz
August 27, 2020 3:50 pm

An example of regulatory stupidity regarding bush fires.

I live in Mt Barker, South Australia in a group of residential estates where block sizes are a minimum of 1,500 square metres and 30 metre frontages, so plenty of space between houses. We are ‘assessed’ as being a high fire danger area.

Consequently, there are rules requiring a 5,000 gallon water tank for fire fighting purposes but only for the owner to use, not the fire fighting services.

The stupidity, as I see it:
– there is no requirement for the homeowner to install a non-electrical pump (as power often fails during a bush fire)
– no-one checks that the tank and pump (if you have one) is kept full/serviceable
– water tanks are not allowed to be filled from the mains so the tank has to either be connected to the house run-off to collect rain water or be filled from a commercial contractor
– government ‘advice’ is to retreat to a safe space early, rather than at the last minute, leaving no-one to use the mandated water resource
– there is no requirement to install a standard fire fighting outlet to connect a fire fighting vehicle, should they desire to use the water

These rules appear to pay lip service to fire fighting efforts and are a considerable cost to the homeowner for little to no benefit.

Reply to  John in Oz
August 27, 2020 6:15 pm

The absolute real stupidity comes when like my property you bound a State Forest which has no requirement to have water or equipment. Even funnier they then expect us to use our equipment and community fire services to fight fires in the state forest using the water from our properties.

Reply to  John in Oz
August 27, 2020 6:38 pm

Victoria, NSW and S.A. all have some sort of local bushfire plans.
They are all slightly different but generally assess risks to various assets.
I may be wrong but I think this is yours

Problem #1
They are extremely biased towards the environment.
In the plan above, the have assesses the risk to orchids but not aged care facilities.
Throughout Australia the risk rating assigned to plant is nearly always higher than human life.
Problem #2
The asset risk and actions are nearly alway NOT DONE.
John you may know the places listed in appendix 1.
Have they really cleared the roads by 40m?

What is happening is that the environmentalists play a major role in watering down these plans and associated clearing actions BUT then come in again to hinder the already watered down actions.

August 27, 2020 6:20 pm

It will be interesting to see greentards like the Australian Climate Council response. I watched the Climate Councils submissions get grilled in the hearings and could see the commission was not impressed with arguments about dangers in 70 to 100 year time spans. They were interested in what they do this year and the next sort of timeframe.

Peta of Newark
August 27, 2020 6:27 pm

Am I/we to *really* understand that folks are planting large stands of ‘Pine Trees’?

Pine trees being what might be called, colloquially, “Fir Trees”

Fir being a contraction of the word ‘fire’
Following on from the clowns who thought Eucalyptus was a Good Idea for Australia – now locally referred to as “Petrol Bushes”?

I do sometimes find it hard to sympathise with folks who are Suicidally Insane = Darwinian Evolutionary Failures blinded by the love of money and/or Good Intentions
That they wipe themselves off The Planet is no problem – that they take an entire continent with them is the sad part
It’s the only word – sad

Tom Ferrell
August 27, 2020 7:15 pm

When you live in the areas that are currently burning for seven decades you gain a perspective on the development/forest/fuel/fire suppression/fire prevention issues. I am pretty sure the costs of reducing the potential for fire in the areas that recently burned equal or probably exceed the value of the property lost. When you are talking about managing the vegetation on 33 million acres annually for the sake of preventing fire destroying a few hundred or a thousand homes. To me it seems like a least a push. You live in a fire prone area, fire suppression costs you as much as your mortgage, less than insurance, you take your chances. Also, once you strip all the vegetation in a hundred yard perimeter around your domicile you say, why the f+^k am I living here? Particularly after the entire neighborhood but you is blackened, you move into a safe area or you rebuild and live in a bunker.

Reply to  Tom Ferrell
August 27, 2020 8:02 pm


Our Forestry managers in Western Austral demonstrated conclusively that it is very possible to conduct fuel management burning over large areas in a cost-effective manner.

They did it for thirty years and reduced the incidence of major fires on the land under their control to almost nil. Governments with short institutional memories severely curtailed the practice and wildfires became a problem again. Policies have quietly changed and the practices that worked – and were affordable – are being resumed.

Current target for fuel management is 8% of land under that agency, per annum,

Reply to  PeterW
August 28, 2020 9:59 pm

Correct. Western Australia now doesn’t suffer from the major bushfires because of its increased hazard reduction burns. Victoria and NSW only burnt less than 2% of their forests last year, and unfortunately the result was disastrous. Also the “home among the gum trees” mentality of folks in country areas is not good as eucalyptus trees, with flammable oil in their leaves, tend to ignite readily and burn very well.

August 28, 2020 12:21 am

Tree plantations depleting ground water in a sunny climate through evapo-transpiration? Who would have thought so, no the average Greeny!

Doug Huffman
August 28, 2020 5:11 am

The One True Scotsman Argument; all of the true Californians that knew the benefits of prescribed burning are gone (me) or dead.

I am pleased to cite this

August 28, 2020 6:49 am

agencies were still arguing about control and threatening anyone who took immediate and decisive action
Typical government bureaucratic bs.

I doubt lessons will be learned, especially in relation to wildland management. If CA hasn’t learned those lessons after all these decades of screwing up, they never will.

August 28, 2020 10:37 am

Many, many, all too many years ago – as a Boy Scout – we did a 2 week camping trip in Maine. Hiking along, we came across a clearing. It was about a half kilometer wide but so long we couldn’t see either end. The break was filled with blackberry bushes so heavy with berries they were bending over under the weight. Our guide explained that Maine sold logging tracts 500 meters wide and 40 to 60 kilometers long. So the logging companies were paying the state to go out and cut fire breaks.

Walter Sobchak
August 28, 2020 7:30 pm

Even the perpetually moronic NYTimes is starting to wake up:

“California Fires: Want to Control Blazes? Start More, Experts Say: Why one of the most feasible solutions for worsening wildfires is doing more prescribed burns.” By Jill Cowan | Aug. 26, 2020 |

As Californians brace for more bad news about what is already shaping up to be one of the state’s most intense fire seasons ever, and as we watch as firefighting capacity is stretched thin, I keep coming back to one question: What is California supposed to do?

* * *

In recent years, momentum has built for purposefully setting fires in certain areas to help thin vegetation and restore ecosystems that would naturally burn more frequently, if not for California’s policy of more than a century requiring that all fires be put out.

Before Euro-American settlement in California in the 1800s, about 1.5 million acres of forest burned each year on average, my colleagues wrote — roughly the same amount that has burned so far this year.

* * *

But the challenge now is getting enough funding to use prescribed burns — which require lots of on-the-ground work and monitoring — and getting the green light to conduct prescribed burns in places where residents might be concerned about fires escaping or fouling the air.

* * *

“We’re chipping away at a backlog from 150 years of suppression,” he said. “But we can get to a point where we’ll be able to keep up with the accumulation of fuel.”

Robert of Texas
August 28, 2020 8:09 pm

There IS a clear lesson from the Aussie experience. Do things differently.

The Aussies can learn the same thing from California.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 28, 2020 10:02 pm

Why the heck did California plant so many Australian eucalyptus trees? They are a real fire hazard.

August 29, 2020 7:53 am

As I have posted before. Ask your parents, grandparents for photos or historical brochures of the CA State and National Parks taken back in the 1900’s, 1950’s, and 2000’s. The obvious growth and increase in trees, under growth, massive brush and brambles taking the place of low grasses and forest floor plants is so obvious that the cause of uncontrollable fires is obvious.
I live next to a tree covered lot. When I moved in 25 years ago there were about a dozen horses roaming the 100+ acres. I could see the horses just about anywhere on the property. I could even see the stable, more than 1/3 of a mile away. There was only grass on the ground. No undergrowth, brush, brambles or trees less than 6 in in diameter. Today I can only see about 50 yards to about 100 yards into this woodland depending on the direction I look. On occasion the frisby or ball i have thrown for the dog has gone into the woodland about 50 feet. Yet, the undergrowth was so thick, it took me fifteen to thirty minutes to find it. That is what “Nature” does when “Nature” is prevented from burning all of that undergrowth off and/or there are no animals grazing on that undergrowth. Years ago I watched the deer eat the small saplings in the winter when they could not find other food in the heavy snow.

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