It is essential that you keep abreast of what is happenning during a major fire and there are quite a few informastion sources that are available.
Fires Near Me
Fires Near Me is the official RFS App and is available for Android and Apple. You can also view online at https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me
When a new fire is reported it will appear on Fires Near Me in near real time. When the status of a fire changes it will generally be changed on the App immediately. The burnt area shown on the App does NOT reflect the current fire front. The information is mainly generated from an aerial line scan that is completed at the end of a day and the map is then updated overnight.
Click on the diamond shaped icon to access the latest information for your fire. Status levels are as follows:
Out of Control
A fire which is spreading on one or more fronts. Effective containment strategies are not in place for the entire perimeter
Effective strategies are in operation or planned for the entire perimeter
The fire is at a stage where fire fighting resources are only required for patrol purposes and major re-ignition is unlikely.
Alert Levels are colour coded and are as follows:
An Emergency Warning is the highest level of Bush Fire Alert. You may be in danger and need to take action immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk
Watch and Act
There is a heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect you and your family.
A fire has started. There is no immediate danger. Stay up to date in case the situation changes.
An excellent App that provides an ability to listen in to fire ground radio. This will tell you exactly what is happening in real time. Search for Scanner Radio in your App Store or use broadcastify.com in a browser
NSW Fires App
The NSWFires App is available for Apple and for Android. It combines information that appears in Fires Near Me integrated with live wind information and with hotspot information as showqn in the screen grab above. Its a great tool.
You can view Bushfire.io on your browser or via a mobile app. Its a seriously good app which won the developer, Tristan Morris, an award in the 2021 Australia Day honours.
The site combines emergency alerts with hot spots, fire fighting aircraft, road hazards and meteorological info including the same sort of wind info you can get on Windy. Check it our here: https://bushfire.io/
Sentinel Hotspots provides live fire information based on Infrared sensors on satellites.
The information is as current as the last satellite pass plus a processing time. The time of the pass is shown on the site.
Each hotspot is aged from the time it was acquired. After 2 hours it will turn from deep red to red. Orange is up to 24 hours, dark yellow up to 2 days and light yellow up to 3 days.
So you can see how the fire has moved and where the current firefront was at the time of the last satellite pass.
The current url for the service is here: https://hotspots.dea.ga.gov.au/
During a Bushfire Emergency roads will be closed by the police once they are deemed to be unsafe. Use the Live Traffic App on Android or Apple to access this information.
On a browser this is the link: https://www.livetraffic.com/desktop.html
Beware that there may be occasions where you will be able to leave the Heights but may not be allowed back to your house. There is also no way of predicting when this will happen. If there is a danger of this happening you may be best to take all your family with you and certainly do not leave old or infirm people on their own at home unless you have made arrangements with a neighbour to care for them.
Windy is available as an app for Apple or Android and is also available on this link: https://www.windy.com/
Its a fabulous weather app. You can select a wide range of different views from wind to weather radar and pollution levels. The weather radar has an integrated lightning tracker and you get a seamless view across the country unlike the different range views on the BOM site. The wind information is critical during a fire as the fire is most likely to reach you when the wind is coming from the direction of the fire.
Beware that during the Gospers Mountain Fire the wind behaviour was frequently very different to the forecast and sometimes seemed to be coming from all directions. On some days the presence of an inversion layer kept the smoke under it and had the effect of dampening the wind.
Staying in touch with your neighbours, so you all know where each of you are, is important.
Setting up a WhatsApp group is a good way to do this. You can also share the latest fire information between the group.