Historic Town in Western Australia Destroyed by Devastating Waroona Wildfire

On 6th January 2016, a lightning strike ignited the Waroona wildfire, just south of Perth in Western Australia. The fire spread rapidly, fanned by strong winds of up to 60 km/h. The wildfire was reported to burn through the city of Yarloop in only seven minutes. The DMC and SPOT6 / 7 Constellations were mobilized to map the impact of the fire.

Wildfire in Australia UK-DMC2

The historic timber mill town of Yarloop was devastated by the fire – nearly 100 homes were burned down (along with a number of historic timber workshops.

Yarloop was established in 1849, and was classified as a conservation area by Australia’s National Trust in 1984. Surrounding towns were also threatened, with all residents evacuated for several nights while the fire raged.

DMCii captured the damage caused by the Waroona wildfire on 14th January, in the UK-DMC2 image above. The burn scar is clearly visible, with smoke still present in the east. We have undertaken some analysis to determine the extent of the burn scar, presented in the map below. This involved determining which areas had seen a loss of vegetation (a large reduction in NIR reflectance) when compared with a previous image. The pre-fire image was one selected to be in the same season as the current image, to ensure the observed changes were not the result of varied vegetation conditions in different seasons. The burned area is estimated to be approximately 450km2.

The image of the constellation SPOT6 / 7 was programmed in Instant Tasking via GeoStore. It helps raise the buildings burned in the city.

Wildfire in Australia UK-DMC2 Image

Waroona Wildfire, Australia
UK-DMC2 14 January 2016

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Wildfire in Australia SPOT 6-7 Image

Waroona Wildfire, Australia
SPOT6/7 13 January 2016

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Wildfire in Australia