This report by David Packham* - Bushfire Threat to Nillumbik Shire - from July 2003 almost exactly describes what happened on Black Saturday.
"Most damaging fires in Victoria are driven at considerable speed (max reported 27 kph for grass and 12kph for forest fires) by hot dry North - Northwest winds and then consume large areas at the passage of a SW wind change. Often the wind moves to the west before going back to the Northwest as a pre-frontal trough passes and then often violently to the Southwest with the cold front." [Tragically this is what happened]
"The large areas of fuel to the north and west creates a serious threat to the whole shire and ultimately to the urban edge developments in the southern parts of the Shire(Photo 2). The other targets for rampant fire spread are the rural residents throughout the Shire and in the Central and Eastern sections the linear villages along the Heidelberg-Kinglake road and the Kangaroo-St Andrews Road." [Tragically these areas were hard hit by the fires]
"Initial attack on fire ignitions can be very effective in controlling potentially disastrous fires. It would be necessary on days of 40 degrees and 40 kph winds to ensure detection and suppression in the first 5 - 10 minutes. I doubt that much of the Shire can be protected by relying upon initial attack." [Tragically the fire was not suppressed before it became much larger - realistically it's such a large area and there are relatively few fire units that this is hard to accomplish]
The report also includes some insightful photos, including this one of a house with low survivability chances.
I had to study the photo for a bit to see the house.
No doubt David Packham the report's author will be making his views known through the Royal Commission - let's hope he gets a hearing and that we make changes based on these horrific fires.
There have burnoffs. When we drove the St Andrews to Kinglake Road in mid-January it had clearly been burnt off in recent history. The debate will be on how much should be burned and how often.
* David Packham, OAM, MAppSci, worked for 40 years in bushfire research with CSIRO, Monash University and the Australian Emergency Management Institute.