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Headline will read: (4, Funny)

toygeek (473120) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515001)

Unmanned Aircraft crash causes Catastrophic brushfire

Re:Headline will read: (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515061)

Why wait for that to happen? Put flamethrowers on them and get the false positive rate down to zero.

Re:Headline will read: (2)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515225)

You know, if Australia backburned a bit more often, bushfires would rage far less viciously across the landscape.

Re:Headline will read: (1)

Scoldog (875927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515291)

The greater Sydney area had rather extensive backburning a few months back. Problem is, NSW is a large place. Looking at the map that Jeremy Lee posted below, the fires are fairly well spread out.

Re:Headline will read: (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515345)

Also it's fucking hot out here. As in - my tyres got sticky in the car park hot out here.

Re:Headline will read: (4, Informative)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515615)

Also it's fucking hot out here. As in - my tyres got sticky in the car park hot out here.

In fact - it is so hot that the Bureau of Meteorology has just added new colours to its weather forecasting chart - because the previous chart colour range capped at 50C and in the coming weeks we are going to need more.

I kid you not. [theage.com.au]

Re:Headline will read: (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515903)

Also it's fucking hot out here. As in - my tyres got sticky in the car park hot out here.

Bah. Let me know when you park for 10 minutes and your car has sunk into the asphalt.

Or maybe it's so hot I just forgot where I parked...

Re:Headline will read: (1)

ancienthart (924862) | about a year and a half ago | (#42516639)

You still have asphalt? Ours started running off the road ... then caught fire.

Re:Headline will read: (4, Informative)

donaldm (919619) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515385)

Back-burning is a fairly common way of reducing the bush-fire threat and is actually carried out in most Australian cities especially in the cooler months. The problem you have is that Australia is huge (a little smaller then the continental USA) with a population of approximately 22 million compared to the USA's 312 million. Normally when a bush fire starts and is in a remote place it can be very difficult get enough firefighters into the area. It is not feasible to back-burn bush-land unless you have a considerable amount of man-power and resources especially water which may be in short supply.

Having drone aircraft for bush-file spotting is actually a very good cost effective idea especially if you can fly a fire-fighting team into the area before the fire gets out of control. Unfortunately even as I write we have record temperatures (approx 40 to 44 degrees C) and strong winds and many bush fires that have started today are in difficult to get to areas and almost impossible to put out.

Re:Headline will read: (3, Informative)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515835)

Back-burning is a fairly common way of reducing the bush-fire threat and is actually carried out in most Australian cities especially in the cooler months. The problem you have is that Australia is huge (a little smaller then the continental USA) with a population of approximately 22 million compared to the USA's 312 million. Normally when a bush fire starts and is in a remote place it can be very difficult get enough firefighters into the area. It is not feasible to back-burn bush-land unless you have a considerable amount of man-power and resources especially water which may be in short supply.

That, and "backburning fire out of control" is not an uncommon headline.

Re:Headline will read: (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42516469)

Back burning in Oz rarely causes property damage even if it does get out of hand, it's the dry hot weather and strong winds that cause problems, similar conditions to California where 120km/h winds off the desert push the fire along faster than the fire trucks can travel, nobody is allowed to burn off in that kind of weather. Also we have just come out of El-Nina conditions, the two years up to last April were very wet and put a lot of growth in the bush that has now dried out due to it flipping back to dry El-Nino conditions.

Re:Headline will read: (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515757)

It is all but impossible to come even close to back burning enough to prevent these fires, Australia definitely doesn't backburn enough, more often then not it is prevented by greenies or do-gooders that think they are helping the bush by trying to prevent it, however Australia is massive and many of these fires rage in inaccessible bushland, the best we can do is better protect towns and houses, even then many residents are their own worst enemies as they want their big shady gum trees near their houses.

Australia - Most States bigger than Texas (1)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515857)

You do realise that one two of the Australian states are actually smaller than Texas. So this backburning you speak of, while is a great idea, is quite impractical.

Re:Australia - Most States bigger than Texas (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year and a half ago | (#42516323)

You do realise that one two of the Australian states are actually smaller than Texas. So this backburning you speak of, while is a great idea, is quite impractical.

We've got cattle stations bigger than Texas, but they're owned by the Chinese now...

Re:Headline will read: (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515887)

One fire this week jumped a decent sized river in Tasmania (normally a cold wet place since it's on the same lattitude as Boston), and others are sending large embers 20km downwind. Backburning is sometimes not enough. Imagine if Halifax Novia Scotia had a couple of weeks where the daily maximum was around 40C for how weird this heat wave is. I'm in the subtropical north and it's been 15C cooler than way down in the south.

Re:Headline will read: (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42516573)

The Black Saturday fire a couple of years back was also throwing spot fires 20km down wind. That was the hottest day on record for Victoria. The conditions are similar now, the day the fires started was the hottest day ever in Tasmania. I've lived in Oz for 50yrs, we used to get this sort of catastrophic bushfire once every 20yrs, it seems to be once every 4-5yrs since about the mid 90's. El-Nino conditions returned last April, I think people are going to stop complaining about the cost of the desal plants when this new drought starts to bite [bom.gov.au] so soon after the last one.

Re:Headline will read: (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42517463)

You know, if Australia backburned a bit more often, bushfires would rage far less viciously across the landscape.

Also, if Australia put out fires less often, bushfires would rage far less viciously across the landscape... eventually

This is mostly joke. But in California the regular burning engaged in by the natives really did keep the brush down and the forests healthy. I don't want to hear anyone whining about the myth of the noble savage, I'm not talking about all natives everywhere. For example, fuck the Aztecs. Regardless, it would have been cool if instead of clear cutting and now depending on controlled burns we had kept the land a forest, built out of nonflammables, and just burned it yearly. The locals solved the problem by being somewhat migratory and running around in a circle. They regularly had better life expectancy than we do now (again, not all natives, but these natives, specifically the Pomo) and I doubt they were less happy...

Re:Headline will read: (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about a year and a half ago | (#42525679)

Wrong term. Backburning is a firefighting technique whereby you burn fuel back into an oncoming fire to deprive it of fuel and create a containment line. I assume you mean hazard reduction burn (HR) where you burn under milder conditions to reduce fuel load later. Australia has had a run of wet summers which had made it hard to burn off (carry out HR burns) and left us with a massive fuel load. Combine that with extreme temperatures in the mid forties, very low humidity and strong winds and you have a tinderbox. Firefighter with NSW RFS.

Re:Headline will read: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42515083)

haha, was just about to post the same thing...

These drones must come with a heavy cost and consume even more energy. A bit counter-productive if it is true that pollution is really having an effect on the weather.

Re:Headline will read: (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515891)

haha, was just about to post the same thing...

These drones must come with a heavy cost and consume even more energy. A bit counter-productive if it is true that pollution is really having an effect on the weather.

If they made them more like powered gliders they could stay up in the air for ages with very little fuel. You get quite incredible updrafts in bushfires!

Or even completely unpowered and tow a bunch of them up with a regular airplane when a fire starts.

This assumes that updrafts from fires are useful in that way and not something too turbulent that would tear a plane apart.

Re:Headline will read: (1)

prelelat (201821) | about a year and a half ago | (#42519515)

The "drone" that they had in an article is much MUCH different than what the military uses. I wouldn't even call it a drone so much as a quad RC helicopter with video modifications. They cost about 50,000 for a commercial version that they would use and last in the air for about 40 minutes at a time. You can actually buy some consumer ones for like 100-400 bucks depending on the quality of them. I have also heard of people making commercial versions for 1500 and up for personal use(wedding videos, music videos and such). They can be quite cost effective when you consider that running an actual helicopter alone in a year would cost more than the helicopter, they fit in the back of a car, and they run for 40 minutes. Not to mention the cost of buying a helicopter to do the same thing.

These are RC quadcopters more than they are Drones.

First they kill people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42515015)

Then they deliver tacos, and now they're forecasting fires. What can't drones do?!

Ah, yes, for "fires" (0)

evanism (600676) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515089)

And for the other 363 days of the year we can assume they will remain on the ground?

They couldn't *possibly* be used to say, spy on us, for instance?

Missile strike update at 6.

Your getting slow (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515193)

Wow it took all of 18 minutes for the tin foil had brigade to chime in.

Re:Your getting slow (1)

Scoldog (875927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515365)

I was thinking it would be good to help catch the bastards who light these fires, then I realized that you'd have to be pretty lucky to catch someone in a state the size of NSW in the act of starting a fire. So hopefully, they don't try and justify this as a reason to spy.

Re:Your getting slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42516237)

Yeah. And some of them are ex-firies and light these fires so they can be paid. Bastards.

Re:Your getting slow (1)

blackpaw (240313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42516467)

Wheres the "Fucking Idiotic" mod when you need it.

Real-time Australian Bushfire Map (4, Informative)

Jeremy Lee (9313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515123)

This map combines near real-time information (hourly to daily updates) from multiple public agencies to give a composite view of fire incidents affecting Australia.
http://www.unorthodox.com.au/fire/ [unorthodox.com.au]

It's getting hot, hot, hot! (2)

Scoldog (875927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515157)

We've just updated our temperature maps with new colors to indicate the higher temperatures

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/temperatures-off-the-charts-as-australia-turns-deep-purple-20130108-2ce33.html [smh.com.au]

Live from Sydney, sweating through 39 degree Celsius heat (Still not the 43 degree heat they promised us, but it's 4:30 in the afternoon so we still have a few hours for it to heat up).

Re:It's getting hot, hot, hot! (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515213)

As a Melbournian I'm slightly amused they are live-blogging the day on the front page of the Fairfax online press. Last Friday it got to 42 or so where I live in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and I had to hunt around for info on whether my train line was running (one of the few that was).

Re:It's getting hot, hot, hot! (1)

Scoldog (875927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515271)

To be honest with you, I'm also amused and also a bit over it. Dunno why I need the media to tell me it's hot let alone constantly bombarding me about it.

It wouldn't be too bad if it was stuff like fire updates (Just found out there is one nearby) but they think it's important enough for me to constantly know how the animals at Taronga Zoo cooled down today, and that people went to the beach to escape the heat. That crap always seems to be talked about whenever I've walked within earshot of a radio or looked at a TV today.

Re:It's getting hot, hot, hot! (1)

mabinogi (74033) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515993)

It was similar on Saturday. Heaps of stories about how parts of Sydney might reach _38_, and meanwhile Canberra quietly breaks 40.

But of course, it's forbidden to ever mention that Canberra is consistently hotter than Sydney in summer, otherwise people might forget the unassailable truth that Canberra is always freezing cold.

Re:Real-time Australian Bushfire Map (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515285)

NSW fire incidents updated by the state's Rural Fire Services [google.com.au] - does not autorefresh

The map for Victoria [vic.gov.au] by the state's "County Fire Authority" with auto-refresh.

Poor painters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42515233)

all brushes burned up....

I hope the drones use Google Maps (1)

jkrise (535370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515259)

for navigation; instead of Apple's hastily clobbered contraption; and crash, and cause the exact bushfires they aim to prevent.

BTW, title mentions Brushfires, summary says Bushfires; which is correct?

Re:I hope the drones use Google Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42515301)

It's bushfires in Australia.

Re:I hope the drones use Google Maps (2)

Scoldog (875927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515313)

In Aus, we call them bushfires. To me, brushfire sounds similiar to what we would call a grass fire. Nothing too concerning about them.

If you hear that a bushfire is coming, get your gear and get the hell out of town.

Re:I hope the drones use Google Maps (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42516349)

(modding)
A few years ago I lived in a community of 350 strong, facing a massive fire. We abandoned the local camp draught and went to the ridges trying to save a few farmhouses. As the fire blew towards us, a plane came and dumped some phoscheck to slow it down. Then it hit the grass. I estimate it travelled maybe 80-120 km/h and a bunch of us were about 200m from the front. As soon as we saw what was happening, we ran as fast as we could towards the road and flattened ourselves, feeling the flames roll over us and down the next gully. We were ok in the end, but a couple of fighters died that day taking refuge in a truck which burnt out.
The place looked and smelt like biblical hell. Breathing in smoke all the time, made red by the sun, people shooting burnt but still alive cattle and sheep. Everybody just stunned.
Later after I moved away, another bushfire. This one caused by an idiot doing his own burnoff during a bushfire on 2 fronts. This one was different, slow moving. I could see it approaching, watching it come down the ridges and across the gully up to my house. Took about 2 days. This time we evacuated into town and most women and children left for the duration. Eventually there were 3 fronts surrounding us. Tankers pumping water from pools and creeks, fighters with wet hessian bags smothering smaller outcrops, earthmovers trying to make firebreaks which were pretty pointless as the gumtrees were exploding due to the heat. The only thing that saved us was rain.
Not good to live through, but this time I'm getting ready. Grab the pets, personal documents, server and backups and leave.

Re:I hope the drones use Google Maps (3, Informative)

donaldm (919619) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515493)

BTW, title mentions Brushfires, summary says Bushfires; which is correct?

Actually both are correct, however in Austrlia we normally refer to areas that are not cultivated or in a city or town as The Bush [wikipedia.org] hence the term "Bushfire" is used to refer to fires in those area. We also have the term Grass-fire which is rather obvious however this can be quite dangerous as well,

ABC's map (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42515341)

Canberra here (2)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515505)

Reporting from the ACT, which is a tiny territory wholly within New South Wales.

Today's tempretures were "real fucking hot", about 38 C/39 C, and the wind is really strong. Whipping up dust all over the place, buffeting the car around as I drove, etc etc. The grass around is quite rich and quite dry, like little golden fields. I actually used the lush grass in a Kindle serial set in Canberra, because it's really pretty and there's a lot of it (and it's very dry). Very, very similar to the big fires that swept through here a decade ago (I was here for that).

It's overcast and cooler now, but earlier today it wouldn't have taken much to light everything up. Some people who lived out in the rural areas are staying home today because they're expecting fires.

I expect tomorrow and the day after will be not as bad, because there's a lot of cloud that's moved in, but later in the week will be bad.

Re:Canberra here (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515945)

We got to 41 yesterday where I live. Only 37 today with even a tiny bit of rain but windy and there is smoke everywhere and the (really crap) android FireReady app is going off every few minutes.

You're doing much worse in NSW/ACT today than us in Victoria though. Hope it all passes without incident.

Brushfires are devastating for hair and tooth! (1)

q.kontinuum (676242) | about a year and a half ago | (#42515531)

Good that finally someone does something about it. Hopefully the drones are flexible enough to check for lice and caries as well.

Next: Researchers develop context sensitive spell checker :-)

m'oxd up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42515701)

tto many rules and 80s, DARPA saw BSD

Low Flying Satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42515783)

I'm starting to think of these drones as just low-flying satellites, no? While they may arguably have better optics than an orbital satellite, they're both remote controlled/unmanned, made for surveillance (notwithstanding the weaponized varieties), and they fly overhead. I don't hear this sort of angst about surveillance satellites? Maybe it's the scope of their use or how 'common' they've become.

reply (1)

newnewshop (2750961) | about a year and a half ago | (#42516255)

I think this is a very use of the value of research, not only to strengthen the preventive live in the deep forest, and improve work efficiency, kill two birds with one stone thing.

Water Missles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42516773)

Any use in fitting these drones with water cannons/missles to target a fire as it's just starting?

If they can get there quickly enough, though how much water could they carry?

Re:Water Missles? (1)

prelelat (201821) | about a year and a half ago | (#42519673)

Most probably can carry enough to put out a fire on a birthday cake. Unless you had something like the military has(they have weapons which are illegal on drones inside the U.S.) your probably stuck with enough carry capacity to lift the battery, a camera and maybe a small payload. Especially the ones shown in the article which are basically really fancy R/C quad helicopters.

Justification (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42516801)

"We need 24/7 drone coverage of our citizens for... [shakes Magic 8 Ball]... Brushfires!"

Right Wing Mantra (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42519243)

Repeat over and over again : There is no global warming.
                    More warmth and brush gets drier and easier to ignite and harder to extinguish. Brush fires are just one of many little horrors caused and amplified by global warming.

Re:Right Wing Mantra (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42519937)

It's the Australian summer. This happens every year, and has happened every year for the last 200 years at least.On what date did it stop being natural and start being our fault?

Re: Right Wing Mantra (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42522799)

The worst bushfire conditions ever happen every year? Really?

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