Research leader

Dr Joe Fontaine Research Leader

The Yanchep bushfire impacted ~12,300 ha in December 2019 during an extreme heatwave event. The impacted region is characterised by expanding suburbs and extensive natural vegetation. Vegetation maps, fuel accumulation profiles, and fire spread models are coarse and not well developed, limiting situational awareness for incident controllers and firefighters. Southwestern Australia has a long-standing, well established program of using prescribed burning to manage bushfire hazard with extensive scientific knowledge existing in forested areas to the east and south of the Yanchep bushfire area, but with substantially less research existing for the bushfire area.

This project will use the Yanchep bushfire to provide key information to the Western Australian fire community regarding the influence of prior management, vegetation type, and weather on fire severity and behaviour as well as establishing baseline knowledge regarding fuel accumulation.

The outcomes of the work will provide previously unavailable knowledge and tools to managers profiling a process that can be expanded to broad areas of high concern in the Perth region. Using the Yanchep bushfire and surrounding area, the research will provide a quantification of fuel loads in key vegetation types of the coastal plain, fine scale vegetation mapping, fire severity assessment, and validation and reconstruction analysis of the Yanchep bushfire to understand the role of prior management, operations, and environmental conditions on bushfire spread and severity.