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Aerial recap: 2024 Australian bushfires


Mar 2024

In the wrap-up of the 2024 summer fire season, we reviewed how Nearmap ImpactResponse imagery contributed to response and recovery efforts across the country.

Mar 2024

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After a year marked by spells of heavy rain followed by weeks of unseasonably hot weather and dry conditions, the official Australian fire season kicked off in October 2023, and the country was preparing for a challenging bushfire season ahead. Predictions pointed to another hot, dry summer that would prime the land for bushfires.
When the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services (AFAC) released its 2023 seasonal bushfire outlook, it predicted that Australia was at greater risk of fires in large areas across Queensland, NSW, and the NT, along with locations in Tasmania, Victoria, SA and WA.
Firefighters, emergency crews, and insurance assessors were on high-alert for another record-breaking bushfire season that could persist until the end of March, or later, depending on weather and vegetation conditions.
The Nearmap ImpactResponse team watched closely, ready to dispatch aircraft at a moment’s notice to capture high-resolution aerial imagery of affected areas from altitudes of 8,000–14,000m.

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With this imagery, responders, rescue teams and insurers can work remotely with a safe, on-the-ground aerial view to conduct detailed, accurate assessments, take measurements and analyse damage.
The clarity of the imagery enables more confident high-level decisions to be made decisively and quickly, without the waiting times or safety risk of physical site-visits and manual data collection.
The comparison image below shows the impact of fires in Tapping in Western Australia. The fire image was captured on 23rd November, 2023. The before image was taken on 7th October, 2023.
Thu Nov 23 2023
Sat Oct 07 2023
This can speed up the validation, approval, and settlement of insurance claims, helping businesses and residents recover and rebuild sooner.
The claims investigation process can often start within days of an event, helping stop the influx of non-essential staff travelling to impacted areas when the only boots on the ground should be responders and rescuers.
The image below shows the impact of flooding in Murchison, Victoria, on 10th January 2024, compared to historical imagery from February 2010.
Wed Jan 10 2024
Mon Feb 01 2010
M’Shenda Turner, Senior Director of Survey and Geospatial Content Operations at Nearmap said, “In October 2023, we were ready for another record fire season but, looking back, we can see that fires only accounted for 22% of our ImpactResponse surveys since then.”
The fires photographed by Nearmap ImpactResponse surveys included the Crossroads, Ducklo and Tapping fires in Queensland, and Dadswells Bridge, Pomonal, and Bayindeen in Victoria. The image below shows more damage from the fires in Tapping, WA, on 23rd November, 2023.
Thu Nov 23 2023
Sat Oct 07 2023
“We soon realised that overall, the 2024 disaster season was going to involve more storms and floods than fires,” said M’Shenda Turner. “In five months, 77% of our ImpactResponse surveys captured weather-related events – 15 floods, two hailstorms, three storm-damage incidents, and one landslide (in Dandenong), compared to six fires.”
The image at the top of the page shows the pink residue of fire retardant dropped from the air to fight the February 2024 fires in Pomonal, Victoria. The image below shows how you can use the line tool in MapBrowser to view the elevation profile of the landscape – a drop of more than 60 metres along the ridgeline.
As Australia prepares for the next peak fire season, Nearmap aerial imagery provides even deeper risk assessment and risk modelling capabilities through AI and predictive modelling. 
Armed with AI mapping insights, planners can identify fire risks including tyre stockpiles, vegetation and debris, and decision-makers can get to work with accurate, current data-driven models that provide reliable predictive analysis.
While the Australian 2024 summer may have reached its official ‘end date’ according to the calendar, the fire season continues to demand close attention year-round, and the Nearmap ImpactResponse team is always watching.

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