Inferno Ahead: Disquieting Scenes from the Blue Mountains Bushfires

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Smoke over the plateaus
Image: Gary Hayes
Smoke moves across the mountains up from Lithgow and down to Sydney.

Another factor affecting the Blue Mountains’ status as a large-scale fire hazard is its terrain. The hills and mountains make the area harder to access and therefore more prone to forest buildup. In addition, the slopes themselves add to both the fires’ strength and the speed at which they are able to spread. Once the fires are ablaze, it is also more difficult for firefighters to get to the steep, bushy areas.

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Fires turn sky red
Image: Mark Hodges
Trees are silhouetted against the red glow of the Mt. York back burn.

One of the Blue Mountains blazes, known as the State Mine fire, began on a military training base near the town of Lithgow on October 16, 2013. The fire was accidentally sparked during an Australian Defence Force explosives exercise on the base. The blaze then spread through sections of the Wollemi National Park – fortunately the Wollemi pines were not harmed – and large parts of the northern area of the Blue Mountains National Park. Smoke from the fire drifted as far away as Sydney and formed dark, ominous clouds.

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