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Peat Fire Burns On

I took a break from blogging for a couple of weeks over Easter, and for that entire time peat bog fires have been burning here in southwestern Victoria.

Peat fires have been smoldering at Cobrico since St Patrick's day, creating significant air pollution for almost a month now.  Vulnerable elderly residents and school students have been relocated, and a dedicated water pipeline has been constructed to help battle it.

Burning peat bogs present particularly nasty environmental problems because they are difficult to extinguish and produce highly toxic smoke.  Peat does not burn in a hot, raging fire, meaning that the fuel source can last for many months, and also that the smoke produced is heavily laden with toxic fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide; these pollutants would be more fully consumed in a hotter blaze.  Peatlands also tend to extend over large inaccessible areas, and can smolder at depths of several metres.

Peat fires present a broader global environmental proble…