On the afternoon of February 14th 1991 a fire started on the edge of Barry Drive on the edge of the Black Mountain Unit of Canberra Nature Park. It was reported at 2:57 pm, by “000” calls. It was spotted also by Coree and Tennent Fire Towers and an O’Connor light unit.
This was officially bushfire no 193 for the season.
When it was finally contained it had burnt 112.5 ha. It was blacked out three days later.


When the fire was reported, I was in Fire Control at Tuggeranong, and assisted the CFCO and the radio operators with dispatch, and worked with a Parks and Conservation Service biologist, who was visiting the control room at the time, as an Agency Representative. I was later dispatched to the fire to provide intelligence on the situation. In 1991 no-one else on the fire ground was taking photographs.
Shortly afterwards I was diverted to assist AFP Forensics at a fire that had counter-terrorist interest upwind of the then new Therapeutic Goods Administration Laboratories in Symonston.
When finished there I returned to the Black Mountain fire site and took more photographs.

Over the following years, whenever workload permitted, I revisited the site on or close to February 14th and retook the photos.
I have not always been able to match the time-of-day, so some changes in sun angles have occured. But by using the same day there are no seasonal errors. The changes in the appearance of grasses, etc, are real responses to summer drying and to drought levels.
I attempted to achieve the same position, direction and field-of-view as in the original photos.
The change from a Nikon SLR camera to a series of Olympus Camedia Zoom digital cameras inevitably caused some differences in the images.
In 2008 I scanned all of the film negatives into JPEGs, at 600 dpi, using a Canon desktop scanner with film holder.
Material by Rick McRae [P] 02 6207 8607 [e]
For ACT Government, Department of Justice and Community Safety
Initially ACT Bush Fire Council, then Emergency Services Bureau, then Emergency Services Authority, now Emergency Services Agency

Page prepared 18th March 2008