RESEARCHERS are in the Shoalhaven this week, visiting people affected by the Deans Gap bushfire in early January.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has engaged the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to conduct the work, which will focus on people’s preparation, decision-making and actions during the fire.
The major research program will begin in the Shoalhaven on Wednesday with Bushfire CRC researchers spending four days in the area.
The fire, which started on January 7, burnt for more two weeks after spreading under catastrophic conditions, destroying more than 9300 hectares of mostly national park land.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the researchers were seeking peoples experiences of the fire which will help authorities better understand their actions and ensure lessons are learned.
“During January we saw fire danger like we’ve never seen before, with the Shoalhaven experiencing some of the worst conditions and one of the most significant fires,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
“A fire like this presents an opportunity to take a close look at what people did before, during and after the blaze.
“If a researcher comes to your door, and you have the time, we ask that the people of the Shoalhaven help us gather this important information.”
Bushfire CRC chief executive officer Gary Morgan said the research was of national significance and followed similar research projects in Coonabarabran, where 53 homes were destroyed, and Yass, where there were extensive livestock losses.
“The data gathered will inform not just the people of NSW and the NSW RFS, but communities and fire agencies across Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Morgan said.
“The NSW RFS has been in regular touch with the Bushfire CRC since the January bushfires, to seek the expertise of the Bushfire CRC in gathering data on the ground to inform this important work.”
An online survey is also being conducted to capture the experiences of visitors to the area.
Affected residents or visitors to the area can register their interest in taking part in the research by firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0404 463 612.