News / 10th August 2023
Bushfire ready – are you prepared for smoke on the horizon?
NSW Rural Fire Service personnel are worried as dry weather and a high fuel load has already resulted in fires burning out of control.
After three years of record rain prompting rapid growth in vegetation, it appears the Earth is now drying up – and a potential El Niño event could be the trigger to a severe bushfire season.
The recent hot and dry conditions have left the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) on the edge of their seats, as they prepare for severe heat warnings.
Over a recent week-long period, the Castlereagh RFS handled two out-of- control hazard reduction burns on two different properties.
The property owners had followed correct procedure and organised and notified the RFS of the burns, however, they had underestimated the dryness of vegetation, with one fire burning through 45 hectares of land.
Aaron Towell, Castlereagh Zone RFS district officer, said the service was worried about potential fires this early in the season.
“There is an awful lot of vegetation on the ground, which means there is heaps of fuel,” Mr Towell said.
“A lot of us can’t remember seeing this much fuel or grassfires since the 1970s.”
He said there has been a sharp increase of pile and agricultural burns losing control, with many not used to the “vitality of grasslands”.
In light of recent uncontrolled fires, the RFS is pushing for more hazard reductions to reduce fuel loads from dry vegetation.
While hazard reductions are reliant on specific weather conditions to minimise risk, Mr Towell advises property owners to look at clearing property lines and access points.
RFS volunteers are now undertaking high levels of training, but Mr Towell said the service will need more volunteers on the ground and encourages community members to get in contact.
The RFS has been working with Warrumbungle Shire Council, Local Land Services and property owners to furnish the community with the right tools in case of severe bushfires.
It is important for the community to be educated on what to do in case of a bushfire and to prepare now, so decisions are not made in a hurry in the event of a fire.
Whether you live in town, on a bush block or a farm, the RFS website covers all the information in relation to bushfire preparedness.
The RFS Four Step Plan
1. Have a conversation with friends and family in your household. Talk to your neighbours and other community members about what to do in case of
a fire, locally.
2. Prepare your home by keeping the grass low, clearing gutters of dry leaves, clearing trees and debris up to 10 metres away from the home and having clear access to a hose.
3. Be aware of the bushfire alert levels. This can be found on the RFS website or on apps such as ‘Fires Near Me’.
4. Remain up to date by keeping key information stored on your phone, keeping in contact with radio and news channels.