By Peter Lynch
A new website containing regularly updated details of bushfires, fires and burn-offs has been launched by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) as a safety measure in the lead up to the annual bushfire season.
The system is an attempt to create a more efficient method of warning people about dangerous fires in their area.
These measures have been implemented following criticism of WA’s DFES due to the allegedly insufficient warnings issued about a bushfire last year in Yarloop, south of Perth. The fire killed two people and destroyed almost 200 properties.
Rory Murray of the Fremantle Fire department says the new system is an essential tool for keeping safe during bushfire season.
“It’s essentially a graphical version of what used to be text-based. It uses Google maps, so you can see exactly where fires are, what kind of fires they are, and whether or not the situation is dangerous or under control,” said Mr Murray.
“Bushfires are much more prevalent these days and it’s important we know when and where they are happening.”
Caitlin White, a representative of Climate Change Action Network Australia, says that global warming is to blame for an increase in the number of bushfires around Australia.
“There is no doubt that global warming is a direct contributor to the amount of bushfires we have. Australia is getting hotter, just as the world is getting hotter, and with that is going to come more intense and more dangerous bushfires,” said Mrs White.
2015 was recorded as the hottest year on record globally.
Research by NASA suggests that 2016 will top that.
Experts say WA’s prolonged rainfall periods may also lead to an intensified bushfire season this year due to rain causing vegetation to grow more and take longer to be ready to burn off.
The West Australian bushfire season is expected to run from the beginning of summer into autumn.
Watch Rory Murray of the Fremantle Fire department explain key points for keeping safe during bushfire season below.