|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Scared and charred remnants of Mountain Ash forest near Mt Murray in the alpine region of Victoria.|
Eucalyptus regnans, or Mountain Ash, is the world's tallest flowering plant, reaching heights of more than100 metres growing rapidly at a rate of 1 metre per year to reach heights of 100 metres, although the tallest individual ever recorded reached 140 metres. The only other species that comes a close second in height is the Californian Redwood ( Sequoia sempervirens).
Mountain Ash can live for up to 500 years. Other than old age, wildfire is the only other common cause of death in Mountain Ash. Characteristics that cause this tree to be fire sensitive include the long ribbons of hanging bark and the extreme combustibility of the foliage. After a fire, the area will regenerate to Mountain Ash as the burnt ground and direct sunlight serves as an ideal seed bed for seed that falls from the scorched crowns.
On the evening of 7 January 2003 (a day of Total Fire Ban across the entire State of Victoria), a weather system comprising of many individual thunderstorms swept across eastern Victoria and southern NSW. Lightning associated with this weather system was responsible for starting over 80 fires in Victoria and more than 40 fires in NSW and the ACT. In Victoria, the fires were located across a broad area of National Park and State forest, often in rugged, forested terrain with limited access.
These fires were at this time, to lead to Victoria's largest bushfire since the devastating fires of 1939. In the 59 days that followed Department of Sustainability and Environment, as the lead agency, was supported by thou-sands of personnel from State Government agencies, the Country Fire Authority, Shires, community organisa-tions, private companies, and interstate and overseas land management and rural fire agencies.
This successful co-operative campaign led to the containment of the fires, which burnt over one million hectares, or almost 5% of Victoria and 15% of the State's total area of public land.
ref: Parks Victoria fact file 2006
The Victorian Alpine Fires January – March 2003 prepared by Kevin Wareing and David Flinn for Fire Management
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