Pinery Fire: SAVEM sit-rep Monday 30 November 2015
Local weather conditions were very hot and windy, with temps of 32C and gusty northwesterly winds. Large quantities of airborne sand and dust made visibility less than 20m on the fireground at times. Dangerous flare up of spot fires in trees and hay stacks also delayed deployment of SAVEM teams.
One team of 2 vets left the Roseworthy Companion Animal Health Centre at 1120 in the SAVEM jeep. A drive round the local roads east of Roseworthy campus and Mudla Wirra road yielded no animal sightings, despite using the thermal imaging camera, and driving conditions were so difficult that the team were ordered back to base at 1310.
Later in the afternoon another team drove out to check the Kapunda Wild Dog Hill Road area. This more timbered, hilly country is thought to be a possible refuge for more wildlife. A large male horned goat was found wandering at large between 2 major roads. PIRSA, RSPCA and the vet school were notified, and SAPOL informed due to the potential danger to road users if visibility again deteriorated.
Mount Lofty CFS reported a possibly injured Kangaroo and joey (for monitoring) at a location north of Mallala, and another CFS QRV vehicle had picked up a burnt Brush-tail possum to hand over for care. Worsening conditions on fireground required stand-down for the day.
SAVEM is actioning calls for assistance from members of the public as they are received.
SAVEM was placed on Standby for the Pinery fire on the evening of Wednesday 25 November. We were activated early Thursday morning.
The Coordinator and the Logistics manager attended a PIRSA briefing on Thursday 26, and attended the fireground on a surveillance mission on Thursday afternoon, calling in at Roseworthy Campus and to Incident Control at Angaston.
On Friday morning we were briefed at Angaston CFS by PIRSA, and deployed two teams to fireground, where we commenced sector surveillance, outreach visits to farms, attended to calls from the public for assistance with companion animals and horses, and assisted PIRSA teams with livestock assessment.
The SAVEM Control Centre was set up at Roseworthy Campus Companion Animal Health Centre, with full support from the University staff.
Two teams were deployed to fireground on Saturday and Sunday. By this time wildlife calls were beginning to come in.
On Monday, conditions on fireground worsened with strong northerly winds, and dust and ash caused visibility and OHSW issues. Mindful of this, SAVEM was still able to send out one team. Reports of wildlife in distress continued, particularly from CFS and other agencies on the ground. Some wildlife in open burned crop paddocks are being monitored. It is likely more wildlife will appear from hiding in coming days.
This Response is very different from Sampson Flat in January. Livestock are the worst impacted, and PIRSA have had a huge task to manage that. However there is still work for SAVEM to do.