The Australian ABC has pieced together data, imagery and interviews to form a new narrative of the fire. It reveals the Gosper mountain Mega-Fire’s starting point, how it joined with other fires and how close Sydney’s suburbs came to disaster.
The fire started in late October 2019 from lightning strikes and burned through over a million hectares until its containment in mid-January 2020, some 79 days later. The graphic shown in this report trace the fire through its deadly journey towards Sydney and shows how close it came to Sydney’s outer suburbs.
Emergency management officials at all levels of government were planning for the worst.
The ABC reveals extensive preparations were made to evacuate thousands of residents from Sydney’s Hornsby and Hills districts. Evacuation centres and escape routes were mapped out. If the fire had broken through, it would have triggered one of Australia’s biggest peacetime evacuations.
By the end of the Black Summer, the Gospers Mountain blaze accounted for half of the mega-blaze at 512,142ha, the Kerry Ridge blaze 323,900ha, the Little L Complex 169,834, the Three Mile fire 45,944ha, and the Grose Valley fire 19,920ha.
Neil Bibby, Asia Pacific Fire Editor says “A great article by the ABC I would recommend you read.”