Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught out

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Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught out

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 8:55 am

It was only due to an unexpected and last minute family commitment that I wasn’t camping in the area impacted by the Ruined Castle bushfire in the Blue Mountains, NSW on Sunday/Monday.

Id planned to walk along Federal Pass track early Sunday and then head offtrack down into Cedar Creek Valley and camp. The forecast (checked on Friday before my plans changed) was for cool weather 10-16C in the mtns with 30 km/h winds. So Id thought this would be one of my final opportunities to go for an overnight walk before the hot weather (and bushfire danger) returned.

My route would have taken through the fire zone at the worst time (Sunday late morning/midday). Im not sure when the fire started but I think around midday/afternoon Sunday?

My planned camp site was on the very edge of the fire with the only escape to head further down Cedar Valley (in dense offtrack bush)

Just shows how quickly fires can start and spread even when the forecast is for cool weather. (and also, how quickly the weather can change)

A real eye opener on the dangers we all face walking this summer..

The fire is still burning and not under control. :(

ruined castle1.jpg
Fire Zone, Ruined Castle fire, Blue Mtns NP, NSW
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby tom_brennan » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 1:31 pm

Pretty sure the whole area was closed by Friday. The fire had been burning for a couple of days before it went up.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby Petew » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 2:08 pm

I hope Cedar creek is not totally trashed. Nice spot. Was there a couple of years ago. Went via Walls pass off narrow neck (bit scary) and out at the ruined castle. Top overnighter.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby Xplora » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 2:54 pm

I have only been walking close to fires twice but have been close to many others. Wollemi once and the other in Vic (2003). I was in the storm then that started the fires and reported the one which burnt Feathertop. A level head and a bit of commonsense will get you out of trouble. One would hope anyway. Not much you can do if the fire starts while you are there, except use that level head and common sense. Some understanding of fire is a good help also. My first tip would be try and go in the opposite direction to the fire movement and downhill. Seems logical. Most big fires will spot well ahead of the front but wetter areas don't spot as easy. Get out before the fire is big. There is usually time to get moving away before the fire grows. Radiant heat is the killer. People do not normally go into a bushfire area to walk while the fire is going so if there is a storm or you see a fire start then there is often plenty of time to make an exit. If you are at all worried about walking during summer because of bushfires then walk in winter.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 2:56 pm

tom_brennan wrote:Pretty sure the whole area was closed by Friday. The fire had been burning for a couple of days before it went up.


Thats good then. Not good about the fires but good the area was closed off over the weekend.

I didn't realize the fire has been burning that long.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby Tyreless » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 3:13 pm

wildwanderer wrote:
tom_brennan wrote:Pretty sure the whole area was closed by Friday. The fire had been burning for a couple of days before it went up.


Thats good then. Not good about the fires but good the area was closed off over the weekend.

I didn't realize the fire has been burning that long.

I walked from Dunphy's Camping Area on Sunday and as I was leaving at 3pm met a ranger who was just closing up the park there because of the Ruined Castle fire. I had been scrambling up and around Glenraphael Head and couldn't see the Ruined Castle fire from there but could see the fires at Kanangra Walls and Yerranderie.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 3:23 pm

Xplora wrote:. Not much you can do if the fire starts while you are there, except use that level head and common sense. Some understanding of fire is a good help also. My first tip would be try and go in the opposite direction to the fire movement and downhill. Seems logical. Most big fires will spot well ahead of the front but wetter areas don't spot as easy. Get out before the fire is big. There is usually time to get moving away before the fire grows. Radiant heat is the killer. People do not normally go into a bushfire area to walk while the fire is going so if there is a storm or you see a fire start then there is often plenty of time to make an exit..


I was having a think of what id do if caught down in cedar valley.

It's tricky one as no exit except back up to cedar ridge (where the fire is) or make a way through the bush to further down the valley eventually connecting with a fire trail. There is also a chain scramble off walls pass, but I don't know if you can climb up it.

I think likely I would have stayed at the campsite (a cave) and popped the sos on the inreach. Possibly tried to move down the creek as the fire approached if the campsite cave wasn't offering heat protection.

Anyway glad I wasn't there!

EDIT.

Parks have now closed all remote track/locations in blue mtns NP until further notice.

https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/vi ... cal-alerts
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby Xplora » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 4:39 pm

wildwanderer wrote: I think likely I would have stayed at the campsite (a cave) and popped the sos on the inreach. Possibly tried to move down the creek as the fire approached if the campsite cave wasn't offering heat protection.


The mobile phone would likely work better there. Much quicker to get a response. That would be my first response but the inreach would be a good backup. Next would be to move away from the fire and maybe down to Kedumba creek. Good tracks from there and better chance of a pickup.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 03 Dec, 2019 5:02 pm

Xplora wrote:
The mobile phone would likely work better there. Much quicker to get a response. That would be my first response but the inreach would be a good backup. Next would be to move away from the fire and maybe down to Kedumba creek. Good tracks from there and better chance of a pickup.


Unsure about mobile phone coverage in cedar valley,This was going to be my first trip down there. I suspect the cliff lines might obscure line of site to phone towers.

Trying to get to kedumba river would have been a no go. As would have needed to walk towards and possibly through the fire zone up to cedar Gap and then down into Jamison Valley.

My thought to stay put would have been dependant on the protection offered by the camp cave. If not good then following down cedar Creek might have been an option. Eventually there is a fire trail.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby mikethepike » Mon 16 Dec, 2019 8:49 am

wildwanderer wrote: Xplora wrote:

The mobile phone would likely work better there. Much quicker to get a response. That would be my first response but the inreach would be a good backup. Next would be to move away from the fire and maybe down to Kedumba creek. Good tracks from there and better chance of a pickup.



Unsure about mobile phone coverage in cedar valley,This was going to be my first trip down there. I suspect the cliff lines might obscure line of site to phone towers.


I've just returned from walking WA's Bibbulmun Track and on which each shelter has a large display poster with comprehensive advice on the options and recommended actions in case of bushfire. The one thing it makes no mention of is calling for outside help (PLB, Inreach, sat. phone etc)! That's presumably because the fire and emergency services will be dealing with other urgent cases of saving lives and property. Due to smoke cover and other conditions in forest country, helicopter rescue of isolated walkers could be unreasonably dangerous even if feasible. You are really being told that you are 'on your own' and as bushwalkers and we need to recognize this before entering fire-prone country during the fire season.
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 17 Dec, 2019 8:02 am

What’s one’s survivability to dive into a creek as a fire storm passes? Oxygen?
Just move it!
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 17 Dec, 2019 10:50 am

GPSGuided wrote:What’s one’s survivability to dive into a creek as a fire storm passes? Oxygen?

Last resort for sure but likely a better option than attempting to run uphill out of a valley to flee an approaching bushfire.

I remember the story of some school kids in the Grose valley, Blue Mtns NP, during a firestorm many years ago. Those that ran uphill towards the firetrail/cars died. Those that ran downhill deeper into the valley towards the river survived. (usually fire moves uphill faster than downhill)

a contingency plan Ive thought of is if..

(A) there is a wide flowing creek
+
(B) its deep enough to submerge up to my head in
+
(C) there are large boulders.

Then jump into the creek with a wet merino thermal over my head, submerge as much as possible while hiding behind the biggest boulder I can find (to try and avoid the radiant heat).

Not sure if this would work.. but worth a try.

If there was a creek but no boulders you would likely cook from radiant heat unless you could somehow manage to stay completely below the water. If the creek wasn’t flowing you might boil.. maybe you still would.. I doubt a fire would burn through quickly enough for a person to hold their breath underwater. (that’s just my guess)
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 17 Dec, 2019 12:02 pm

I understand that in some of those city fire storms as a result of bombings in WW2, the burns were so intense that they depleted oxygen in the vicinity and suffocated anyone who survived the bombing. Do bushfires get that intense?
Just move it!
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby michael_p » Tue 17 Dec, 2019 12:38 pm

1994, a woman who sheltered in a swimming pool died.
RFS article:
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SMH article:
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sear ... -lyvw.html
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 17 Dec, 2019 1:47 pm

Sad.
Just move it!
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby Heremeahappy1 » Tue 17 Dec, 2019 5:40 pm

09 fires in my area of Gippsland, several stories of people seeking last minute refuge sheltering in dams, tanks and the like, some terrible results. Others ok https://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/20 ... 721656.htm
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Re: Dangers of walking during Bushfire season. Almost caught

Postby Xplora » Wed 18 Dec, 2019 5:29 am

GPSGuided wrote:What’s one’s survivability to dive into a creek as a fire storm passes? Oxygen?

Listening to the radio while travelling home from Sydney on Monday and heard the RFS boss say that even the creeks and gullies are not slowing the fires like they used to but in my view still a better bet than open bush. Too many variables to tell if you would survive in a creek as a fire passed. You would have to be fully protected from the radiant heat.
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