DRY conditions have local Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews very wary heading into the region’s hottest weekend in months.
Temperatures are predicted to soar into the mid-30s this weekend and early fire activity in the season has left some ominous warning signs for the months ahead.
Superintendent Tim Butcher said RFS crews in the Liverpool Range zone were braced for a “hot, dry and windy” weekend and were rallying the troops so they could deploy “heavier than normal” responses.
“The fires so far have started easier, spread more rapidly and been harder to contain than they usually would, this early in the season,” Superintendent Butcher said.
“It’s fairly ominous and the RFS are at a heightened level of alertness.”
He said some small fires had been “getting away quite quickly” with medium-sized fuels also a lot drier than they usually would be.
Superintendent Butcher said there was some good news in the region’s seasonal outlook, with average rainfall predicted.
However, he said the landscape and soil was “significantly drier” than usual.
He urged landholders to take whatever steps they could to keep their properties safe.
“They should keep their lawns mown, particularly around houses and sheds,” he said.
“Also, move sources for fuel, like old firewood stacks.
“And make sure you have a plan whether you’re going to stay and defend or get away early.”
While modelling will become clearer as the weekend draws closer, Tamworth RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said it would be more than likely a total fire ban would be enforced in the North West region.
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Superintendent Purkiss urged landholders to be wary with any plans for hazard reduction.
“We’re not in the bushfire danger period yet,” he said.
“But with temperatures warming and those winds, I’d encourage people to be very, very wary with their use of fire.”
While he said people would probably need to consider postponing any plans for burning this weekend, Superintendent Purkiss reminded landholders to keep the RFS posted about any burns.
“You still need to notify us and your neighbours before burning,” he said.
“Otherwise, it’s an $1100 immediate fine and it’s another $1100 if it escapes to another property.
“So there’s plenty of disincentive there.”