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Community & Business

6 September, 2023

Drier, hotter conditions increases bushfire danger; as blaze bans period starts early

By Harriet Gilmore

It was this time last year that floods threatened many of our inland towns, with the added vegetation growth, now making bushfires the major concern for spring, 2023.

This follows the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services (AFAC) recently releasing their annual Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, that shows large parts of the country, including Warren, predicted to experience an increased risk of bushfires this Spring and into Summer.

The forecast shows most of inland NSW, the Northern Territory and Queensland, and regions of Victoria and South Australia, as having been identified for increased bushfire risks, due to higher-levels of vegetation and predicted hotter and drier conditions.

According to the AFAC, Australia’s climate influences have shifted significantly since last year, follow- ing higher rainfall during the La Niña (wet weather ) cycle with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) now predicting hotter and dryer seasons for much of the country.

Last year’s flood events and recent rainfall, also means that many regions have experienced increased vegetation growth; the perfect fuel for bushfires.

AFAC CEO, Rob Webb, said that the signs this year, are worrying.

“The climate influences driving increased risk of bushfire this season are widespread,” he said.

“Almost the entire country can expect drier and warmer conditions than normal this Spring so, it is important for Australians to be alert to local risks of bushfire over the coming months, regardless of their location,” he added.

Bushfires are a normal part of the warmer months in our country, he explained.

“Fire is a regular part of the Australian landscape in Spring; wherever you live, work or travel, now is the time to plan and prepare,” he said.

“Understand your risk, know where you will get your information, and talk to your family about what you will do,” Mr Webb added.

In Warren and much of central and northern NSW, the AFAC is warning drier-than-average conditions and frost-curing, could mean an early start to the bushfire danger period.

In the event of fires and windy weather, high grass fuel-loads in the region can support intense and fast spreading grass fires, he said.

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) have also announced this week they will be bringing-forward the Bush Fire Danger Period (BFDP) to this Friday, September 1 for Warren and also for a total of 38 local government areas across NSW.

This means that landholders will now be required to get permits and notify neighbours and the RFS at least 24 hours prior to any controlled burning from the first day of Spring.

RFS Inspector, David Nicholson said that, although the bushfire danger period usually commences on about October 1, it is not uncommon for some areas to begin on September 1.

“This year is different for the North West Zone, as the danger period is commencing a month earlier than normal,” Insp Nicholson said.

“During the Bush Fire Danger Period, landowners and land managers, are required to obtain a Fire Permit from their local RFS before lighting any fires, including hazard reduction burns,” he added.

There are also other just-as-important precautions that landowner should take, he explained.

“Before you light a fire, it’s critical that you check weather conditions are safe for burning, and that you have the necessary precautions and equipment in place. “Never leave a fire unattended and, if a fire does escape, it is essential to call Triple Zero (000) immediately so that emergency services can respond and minimise the damage; with the Fire Danger Period commencing, Fire Permit holders are (also) required to let fire authorities and their neighbours know at least 24 hours before lighting-up.”

Insp Nicholson said that as fuel loads remain high, particularly across the North-West, it is important that land managers and residents are prepared, and remember that bush and grassfires can start any time.

“While our firefighters are doing what they can, preparation is a shared responsibility, and home and land-owners need to prepare their properties too,” he said.

“This means doing simple things like creating fire- breaks on your property, cleaning your gutters, remov- ing combustibles from your yard, ensuring hoses can reach all corners of your property and updating and dis- cussing your bush fire survival plan, so you know what you will do if fire threatens,” Insp Nicholson concluded. 

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