Ranchers face an uphill battle to overcome the Barkley Fire

Herders and BushfiresNT are battling outdated technology as they try to fight the ‘monster’ Barclay Fire that has caused millions of dollars in damage. Read what they’re up against.

A massive bushfire in the Northern Territory is threatening Tennant Creek, with severe weather conditions expected today. Authorities say this bushfire is one of the largest ever encountered in the Northern Territory, covering an area of ​​more than 9,300 square kilometres. There are major concerns about a potential change in winds that could push the fire towards the town of Tennant Creek. Additional resources were brought in from the United States and Australian Defense Forces to help fight the fire using fire breaks. Authorities are dealing with two wetter than normal rainy seasons, followed by a long, hot dry season, creating a huge amount of fuel for this fire.

Will Evans, chief executive of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, said a lack of effective communication meant it could be some time before the true cost of the fire was known, but it had so far burned more than 10,000 square kilometers of prime pastoral land, with farmers and bushfires also burning. In the Northern Territory. Still struggling to contain the spread.

A major concern for the industry is the failure of successive Commonwealth governments to deliver the long-awaited Doppler weather radar, which was first promised for the region in 2019 but has yet to be completed.

Will Evans, of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, says herders are stuck with 1950s technology.

The main Barclay fire, burning on a 140-kilometre-long front, is being fed by variable winds and strong fuel loads.

“It continues to cross containment lines,” Evans said.

“We’ve been able to get some breaks that have been effective, but if the winds continue to change and the storms continue, that’s what we’re going to be facing for a while to come.”

Pastoral losses following an above-average rainy season are “catastrophic” for livestock producers for whom grasslands are their most important asset.

Stations affected include Rockhampton Downs, Panca Panca and Tennant Creek.

“We need the good years to carry us through the tough times,” Evans said.

“Pasture growth like we saw this year can set us up for the next season to come and sometimes even the following season.

“I know some people don’t get excited about growing grass, but for us, grasslands are our number one asset.

“We simply cannot exist as an industry if we cannot protect it.”

First promised in 2019, the Doppler weather radar has suffered numerous delays with Barkley residents told the radar would be operational by mid-2023, which it isn’t.

Livestock pastures were damaged in the Barkley Fire.

“How useful it would be to be able to predict the weather during a declared fire emergency,” he said.

A response has been sought from the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments on when the weather radar will be operational.

Meanwhile, Mr Evans said the NTCA was currently in close contact with members who were outside fighting the fires, but communications had been challenged by outdated or non-existent infrastructure, which was a “huge obstacle” to being able to support patrons who needed help. .

“The biggest challenge is being able to communicate with these people on the ground,” he said.

“The front of this fire is 140 kilometres, it has burned an area four times the size of the Australian Capital Territory, and we are still using technology from the 1950s to stay in touch with those fighting this thing.”

Without effective communication channels, the cost of the current fire remains unknown, but is expected to include millions of dollars in infrastructure and asset losses, Evans said.

“We simply don’t know yet,” he said.

“We will work with members and will have boots on the ground immediately after this matter is under control.

“That’s a problem for tomorrow. Now, my thoughts are with those on the ground.”

(Tags for translation)Australian Defense Force

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *