Wildfire can leave burned areas with little or no vegetation and an impaired ability to absorb rainwater. This can result in increased rainwater runoff, and a significantly higher risk of flooding and debris or mud flows.
Learn more to ensure that your property is rain ready:
Frequently Asked Questions
After a fire, windborne material such as ash and soil from paddocks with inadequate ground cover may be blown into streams. Once in the water, organic materials provide ideal food for bacteria and algae. These organisms grow rapidly using up all free oxygen in the water (it becomes anaerobic) and putrefaction results. Symptoms are dark water, a bad smell and black scum around the water’s edge. Horses and other livestock find such water unpalatable. Thick scum around the water’s edge may also prevent animals accessing the water. It is believed the water is not poisonous to livestock, but it may be harmful to young or weak stock.
Fire ash contains microscopic particles (dust, dirt, soot) that can be deposited on indoor and outdoor surfaces and can also be inhaled if the ash becomes airborne. Unless tested, the ash is not classified as a hazardous waste, however it may contain traces of hazardous chemicals such as metals (lead, cadmium, nickel, and arsenic), asbestos (from older homes or other buildings), perfluorochemicals (from degradation of non-stick cookware), flame retardants, and caustic materials. For these reasons, it is advisable to be cautious and avoid any unnecessary exposure to the ash.
Fire ash may be irritating to the skin, nose, and throat, and may cause coughing and/or nose bleeds. Fine particles can be inhaled deeply into lungs and may aggravate asthma and make it difficult to breathe. If the ash contains asbestos, nickel, arsenic or cadmium, then exposure is a particular concern because these substances can cause cancer. Because the substances in the ash vary, it is always best to be cautious.
Given the scale of the burned area, it will be impossible to prevent the migration of ash and debris into creeks, and the concentrations of hazardous materials is unknown.