Fact sheet

Fact Check: Were Queensland fire danger indices historically high for early September?

Fires Climate change
As early as the first week of September 2019, more than 100 fires raged across south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales. Inspector for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Andrew Sturgess claimed: "We've never seen fire danger indices, fire danger ratings, at this time of the year, as we're seeing now. Never seen this before in recorded history." Is that correct? Mr Sturgess is close to the mark. In making the claim, he referred only to Queensland, so Fact Check examined only records for Queensland in assessing the claim. Fact Check obtained daily records from the Bureau of Meteorology about bushfire danger since January 1950 for four south-east Queensland fire districts: Port Curtis; Moreton; Darling Downs; and Maranoa Warrego. The records are a district average of the Forest Fire Danger Index for the day, which is comprised of data including temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and drought. They showed the index reached unusually high levels for the time of year in south-east Queensland in the first eight days of September 2019.
Verdict: Close to the mark
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