2009 Delburn Fires: Lest we forget!
2009 Delburn complex fires – Home on Darlimurla Rd – view towards turbines 31, 32 and 33
2009 Delburn Complex Fires
Warning: The fires traumatised many local people. The following information may contain details which may distress community members impacted by the fires.
11 years ago the 2009 Black Saturday fires devastated much of rural Victoria and destroyed over 3,500 homes and claimed 173 lives. These are the untold stories of the people of Boolarra who through bonds of sacrifice, friendship and love managed to rebuild their community with tenacious pride. Video produced and kindly share with permission by ROCK Rehab. www.rockrehabproductions.com
Disclaimer: This video have been selected to simply highlight the impact the 2009 Delburn Complex Fires had on the community. SCA are not endorsing either the program or anyone who is sharing the video.
Response to firefighting attempts impeded by turbines
“OSMI and HVP are planning to place 35 x 250m high wind turbines in a region devastated by fires in 2009. A simple Google search will reveal the small village of Delburn is now known for two reasons – the catastrophic Delburn Complex Fires of 2009 and the proposed Delburn Wind Farm. In the 2009 fires, 44 homes were lost, many animals died and some people have never recovered. The area burnt out by the Delburn Complex Fires overlaps 21 of the 35 wind turbines. See the resources below for more information and maps.
Aerial support was critical in combatting the fires. This is acknowledged in the Royal Commission into the Delburn Fires. Imagine trying to fight this fire in a helicopter when you have one, two or 35 turbines that are 250m tall to navigate around. Water bombing in 2009 saved homes. Adding 35 x 250m high obstructions into an already vulnerable region means the ability for pilots to safely protect our community may be severely compromised. Wind turbines and Met towers have been identified as hazards to aerial firefighting.
Wind turbines and Met towers have been identified as hazards to aerial firefighting.
“Wind farms may result in aerial fire-fighting limitations due to aerial obstacles created by wind turbines and meteorological monitoring towers.” (AFAC 2018, Wind Farms and Bushfire Operations Guidelines.)
“The types of fire risks related to wind energy facilities may include … firefighting limitations within and adjoining the wind farm footprint, such as limitations on aerial support and access and egress conditions” (CFA 2017, Emergency Management Guidelines for Wind Energy Facilities)
It is evident from the OSMI map that a number of turbines are less than 1km apart.
“All aerial fire fighting operations are conducted according to Civil Aviation Regulations of Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Low visibility can reduce the effectiveness of firebombing operations as targets and hazards become obscured or undetectable”…“Vertical obstructions close to a fire area may limit aerial firefighting operations. Pilots in command will undertake a dynamic risk assessment and in some circumstances, aircraft will not be utilised because risks caused by vertical obstructions exceed safe operating conditions”.
Increased Bushfire Risk
Not every fire is catastrophic. However, if we are limiting our ability to fight fires, catastrophe may result. There is a Bushfire Management Overlay at the site of wind farm due to the high bushfire risk. The purpose of the Overlay is to “ensure that the development of the land prioritises the protection of human life and strengthens community resilience to bushfires”. The 2009 Delburn fires spread from the HVP plantations where turbines are to be sited into Boolarra.
Wind farms increase bushfire risk. As well as impeding aerial fire fighting, the turbines are also a potential source of fire. Placing them in a plantation where fuel loads are high only adds to the risk.
“CFA recognises that the risk of fire always exists when electronics and combustible oils and hydraulic fluids exist in the same enclosure”…“Where practicable, Wind Energy Facilities should be sited on open grassed areas (such as paddocks grazed by cattle and sheep)” (CFA 2017, Emergency Management Guidelines for Wind Energy Facilities) Lightning is one of the main causes of fire in plantations. Despite developers fitting turbines with integrated lightening protection systems, fires have occurred. Refer to the article below on the Lal Lal Wind Farm fire in September 2019.
Arson is considered a major threat in Gippsland. Unfortunately, attempts to protect the plantation from arsonists have failed. The 2009 Delburn fires were deliberately lit. The Gippsland Arson Prevention Program was launched in an attempt to address local concerns.