31 July 2017


Kangaroo Island, South Australia, January 2020

Fires on Kangaroo Island reached their greatest intensity in early January 2020. The devastation was reported by news networks and media outlets world-wide, and with two thirds of the island burnt, the impact will be felt for many years to come. A FireFlight fire mapping system was deployed for a few days during the height of the fires to support ground-based relief efforts.

Further details and fire mapping results can be found here: Kangaroo Island fires January 2020.

Karte fire, South Australia, January 2018

The Karte fire, which was started by lightning strikes, burnt through native vegetation near the Karte Conservation Park and within the Peebinga Conservation Park on the 20th January 2018. The FireFlight system was mobilised when it became clear that this fire continued to burn out of control, and fire crews from far and wide were being sent to assist with fire fighting operations.

Further details and fire mapping results can be found here: Karte fire January 2018.

Sherwood fire, South Australia, January 2018

The Sherwood fire took place on the 6th January 2018 in the south east of South Australia. The fire burnt nearly 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) on a day when weather conditions were classed as “catastrophic”. Due to the high fire danger risk, the FireFlight system was put on standby early in the day. At 1500 (3pm) local time, the system was flown to the site of the Sherwood fire, and mapping operations began at 1557 local time. Mapping continued for approximate 1.5 hours, during which time nearly 2000 thermal image frames were acquired by the system.

This was the first full test of the FireFlight mapping system on a large scale, out-of-control fire. On this particular day, the system was not configured for real time data delivery, and therefore could not be used to assist with fighting the fire. However, the system is now fully operational and ready to provide real time data on future fires.

The FireFlight mapping results can be found here: Sherwood fire Jan 2018.

Full details of the Sherwood fire are given in this Country Fire Service (CFS) media release.

Ettrick controlled burn, South Australia, October 2017

In October 2017 the FireFlight system was tested at a controlled burn in South Australia. The burn was conducted over two days, covering an area of about 144 hectares (355 acres). The system was used at the end of the second day when the fire was mostly extinguished. At the time, ground crews were patrolling the border and blacking out hotspots. From above (5000ft AGL) it was difficult to see flames with the naked eye, and very little smoke was present. Even so, the FireFlight system detected hundreds of hotspots, some quite large.

The purpose of the test was to investigate the effect of flying height when undertaking post-fire mapping. Data was acquired at 2500ft, 3750ft and 5000ft above ground level. The test showed that even at 5000ft, the FireFlight system could detect and accurately locate small, medium and large hotspots.

See the Ettrick Controlled Burn hotspot map here

Metz fire, California, May 2016

On the 25th May 2016 the FireFlight system was used to identify hotspots at the Metz fire, which had been contained the day before. The system detected at least four hotspots: small areas (a few square metres) where intense burning was still present. The image data clearly showed that these hotspots were in the centre of the fire ground, and therefore posed no risk of re-ignition.

See the Metz post-fire hotspot map here

The greyscale image is a thermal map of the burnt area at the Metz fire. The different shades of grey represent different temperatures (dark is cool, and light is hot). Circled on the thermal map are four hotspots: bright white areas which show where fires are still burning. As part of the processing, the thermal image map is fully aligned with map coordinates, so the GPS locations (latitude and longitude) of each hotspot can be easily determined.

Read about the Metz fire here

Kyeema fire, South Australia, November 2015

On the 19th November 2015 the FireFlight system was evaluated on a small fire at Kyeema, South Australia. At the time of the overflight the fire was mostly contained: air assets had been stood down, and ground crews were tackling the last remaining fires in difficult terrain. The fire maps created from the image data that was flown show the locations of those last remaining fires.

See the Kyeema fire map here

The greyscale image gives an indication of temperatures, with dark areas showing the coolest temperatures, and light areas showing the hottest temperatures. The highest temperatures in the image map are active fires; these have been coloured red to make them clearly visible to users of the data.

Read about the Kyeema fire here