Fire authorities aware of wildlife corridor
It is time to stop creating unnecessary alarm, worry and anxiety about the impact of fire in Pearl Beach (Forum, February 21).
It is important and prudent that residents and property owners in Pearl Beach are aware of fire risk and that they maintain their properties appropriately.
This has always been the case and the situation has been monitored effectively by the local fire authorities for many years.
Pearl Beach is fortunate to have a well-equipped and well trained Bush Fire Brigade which is strongly supported by the local community.
It operates under the close supervision of the Council's Fire Control authority at Kariong.
Pearl Beach is also fortunate in its natural topography in relation to the impact of wildfire on it.
It is important to understand this topography when considering potential fire impact and to have a rational and realistic assessment of the degree of risk.
There has not been a fire in the Pearl Beach village since the fire of December 23, 1990.
The fire started at Mullet Creek early on December 23, and was fanned by hot strong north-west winds through Brisbane Water National Park arriving on top of the mountain to the west of Pearl Beach near the waterfall about 1pm.
While fires don't normally travel down hillsides where they are protected from the prevailing wind, or travel very slowly down these hillsides, the gasses and sparks in this very hot fire blew from the top of the mountain down into the pine forest below which was still growing at that time in lot 540.
The pine forest literally exploded like a bomb into fire itself, spraying sparks which started fires in the Arboretum and the Creek lines.
The effect of the pine forest was similar to the disastrous fires in Canberra several years ago where huge pine forests throughout Canberra created much devastation and exacerbated the severity of those fires.
Had the pine forest not grown and exploded, the possible resulting spot fires in 1990 would have been more easily contained in the village area by residents and the fire fighting teams present on that day and it is unlikely that the two houses would have been lost.
In fact they were lost because the owners were not present to defend their houses or to call up help from the fire brigades.
The houses were set well back from the street and could not be seen from Crystal Ave by the visiting Fire Brigade people working in that area.
Since 1990 there have been several fires in the Patonga Rd area of Brisbane Water National Park, probably one every three to five years.
Some of these have been quite severe in strong north-west winds as in 1990.
On each occasion these fires have been fought, when necessary, with helicopter water bombing techniques, which were not available in 1990, and successfully extinguished on top of the mountain.
On the most recent occasion, the fire authorities even extended the burn in the National Park for fuel reduction purposes whilst they had helicopter assistance on site.
With mountains to the north and south giving protection in winds from those directions and sea protection to the east, Pearl Beach is really only threatened by severe fire from the west. Control of these fires has advanced considerably since 1990.
National Parks have a regular hazard reduction program which includes the National Park west of the village
The regeneration of the wildlife corridor of the Crommelin Native Arboretum in Pearl Beach will replicate the natural forest of the National Park and the University's Crommelin Research Station bushland which are adjacent to it.
However, it will include a grassed open area and a cleared emergency vehicle access track to provide access to a part not previously accessible.
The planning of the regeneration has been done with the full knowledge of Gosford Council and the Kariong Fire Control centre.
The Pearl Beach community strongly supported the creation of the wildlife corridor for mammals and birds and the expansion of the Arboretum.
Pearl Beach is a caring community and it saw the need for the corridor.
Is it being suggested that the whole of the National Park hillsides surrounding Pearl Beach, the Crommelin Research Station and all the vegetation in our creeklines and wetlands should be cleared?
We need to be rational and reasonable about this issue.