st elmos fire is the most destructive fire in the world, destroying homes and businesses in St Elmo’s, and killing more than 1,000 people.
It’s the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history, and has left more than 600,000 homeless, and left the state of Victoria struggling to recover.
And now we’re seeing some very interesting results from a research project funded by the Australian Government’s National Disaster Research Centre.
St Elmos fireThe fire is currently burning over a large area in the St Elmos district of St Elmore, Victoria.
Photo: Andrew Meares”It is a very interesting project that we’re doing at the moment that has been commissioned by the Commonwealth, and we’re looking at how it can be used to help the people of St Peter’s in the future,” Dr Nick Cairns, from the University of New South Wales, told AM.
“We are also looking at ways that it can help the local community, the businesses that we see affected by the fire.”
The research will be funded by a grant from the Commonwealth and the Federal Government’s Disaster Research Assistance Scheme (DRAS) program.
Dr Cairn said it was the first time he had heard of the fire spreading over such a large swath of land.
“There is a massive area of land that’s affected by fire, and the land has no fire protection,” he said.
“So if you can see a huge area that’s burnt down and there’s no fire barrier, you have no fire suppression.”
It’s a very unique fire system that’s been there for thousands of years.
“When we first came across this system in the 19th century, we were really surprised at how good it was.”
Dr Cairs work is funded by DRAS, and was developed to study how fire systems work in the real world.
“I think that there’s really an interest in trying to understand the fire systems in the wild and to get a better understanding of how fire works in nature,” he explained.
“And it’s a really unique system.”
He said the team had also been able to compare different fire systems across the world.
Dr Peter Stacey, the Chief Executive of DRAS said the work was part of a wider effort to help people affected by natural disasters.
“In the past, when fires raged across Australia, it took a few days for us to identify the location and to assess whether it was an individual or a community property, and then we had to make a decision as to whether that was appropriate,” he told AM on Wednesday.
“Now, with this work, we’re going to be looking at all of these issues from the point of view of how the fire system operates, to see whether we can develop ways to help these people and communities.”
Dr Stacey said it took many months of work to get to this point, and it was important for the community to know what was going on.
“The fact that people are affected and have lost their homes is one of the most tragic aspects of the situation, and this research is helping to understand what is happening,” he added.
“This will be really important for communities affected by fires, as we know that they are affected more than others.”
Dr Paul Kost, who is also from DRAS and was part the team that developed the research, said that people were keen to get involved in the work.
“People are very much interested in this work,” he shared.
“Because of the work that has already been done, we now have a whole new set of questions to ask.”
“It may be a bit of a challenge for people who are very new to fire science to get into it, but I think it’s really worthwhile.”