The Bureau of Meteorology through the media is prone to quote the 46.4 degrees temperature recorded in central Melbourne on that day – also spruiked as all time Melbourne hot day. Although what exact relevance the temperature in the middle of the huge and growing Melbourne urban heat island (UHI) has to conditions on the fire grounds – I do not know.
It is worth remembering that the maximum temperature at Kilmore Gap on Black Saturday was 42.7 – that is the nearest recording available to where a power line failure ignited the Kilmore fire – which amidst Govt Fire Authorities confusion – birthed the Black Saturday disaster.
I am asking about air tankers on the scale of the P-3 Orion, or DC-10 or Boeing 747, people may know of others, does anybody know the whereabouts of any of these aircraft ? Who controls their use ? Thinking of the disastrous Dunalley fire SE of Hobart Friday 4 Jan 13. ABC map of Dunalley fire.
Can people please post any links to dated photos of fixed wing air tankers working this month – thanks.
Added after posting: The answer here seems to be – there are none. Great photo of BAe-146 air tanker dropping fire retardant in California. So with all our wealth in Australia we go into a summer without any medium & large air tankers. I wonder who decided this ?
Back to the Dunalley fire – here is the Dunalley fire smoke plume on weather radar from midday until 5pm – judging from the first smoke signal ignition was before 1pm – note local time is in the lower left where it says (Updated on Server) UTC is GMT I think.
Table below shows Dunalley weather from BoM site in town. Temperature is first column – the next 4 cols are not vital then the last 3 cols are wind direction, wind speed and wind gusts in km hour.
Dunalley Timeline – work in progress
 Ignition likely near ~midday as radar shows first smoke pixel at 12.54pm. Most fires do not make enough smoke to show a signal on radar – and wind was fairly quiet so fire was probably not making sufficient smoke to be detected by radar for an hour or so until 1pm.
 Temperatures at Dunalley at time of ignition were only 30 to 35 degrees – see above screen save from BoM page. The time prior to 2pm was the window of opportunity for an aerial attack to suppress this fire.
 Note in the table how wind and temperature increased sharply between 1.51 and 1.57pm which fits exactly the time radar shows the smoke signal rapidly increasing. From that time on the fire would have quickly become more difficult to suppress.
 The passage of the fire in Dunalley is shown by the 54.9 and 49.9 temperatures at 4.22 & 4.23pm.
Question I am interested in is – “what were authorities doing from midday till 2pm when the fire in relatively quiet winds should have been easiest to put out”