Wet-sea­son fuel loads make for high-risk bush­fire sea­son

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

The heavy 2016-17 sum­mer rains may have brought joy to those hold­ing out for a good down­pour but au­thor­i­ties are warn­ing it has in­creased the like­li­hood of cat­a­strophic bush­fires this sea­son.

The rains have led to higher than usual fuel loads, lead­ing the De­part­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices to al­lo­cate 16 ex­tra fire­fight­ing ve­hi­cles to its North West fleet, six of which will be based in the Pil­bara.

The Bush­fire and Nat­u­ral Haz­ards CRC 2017 North­ern Aus­tralia Sea­son Bush­fire Out­look in­di­cates an abovenor­mal fire po­ten­tial is ex­pected for parts of the Kim­ber­ley, south-west­ern parts of the Pil­bara and north­ern parts of the Mid West and Gas­coyne.

DFES su­per­in­ten­dent Peter McCarthy said agen­cies had been un­der­tak­ing pre­scribed burns, strength­en­ing fire­breaks, slash­ing and re­duc­ing fuel loads around pop­u­la­tion cen­tres for the past four months.

“We had a very wet wet sea­son and that has led to higher than nor­mal fuel loads in cer­tain re­gions,” he said.

“They are al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fires in the Kim­ber­ley and we are just start­ing to get fires pop­ping up here in the Pil­bara.

“As fuel loads in­ten­sify with the weather and dry winds, I’d say into the next two to three months we’ll start see­ing some fairly ac­tive fires.”

Mr McCarthy said one of the big­gest prob­lems with fires in the North West was their im­pact on road sys­tems, which could leave trav­ellers stranded for a pe­riod of time.

The com­mu­nity is en­cour­aged to pre­pare now and take ex­tra pre­cau­tions when trav­el­ling in these ar­eas.

It is es­sen­tial that the com­mu­nity heed warn­ings is­sued by emer­gency ser­vices.

Peo­ple trav­el­ling through the area should carry a map and a bush­fire sur­vival kit, in­clud­ing a por­ta­ble ra­dio, first-aid kit, woollen blan­kets, spare bat­ter­ies and plenty of drink­ing wa­ter be­fore set­ting off.

They should also ad­vise friends and fam­ily where they will be trav­el­ling and their ex­pected ar­rival times.

High wet-sea­son fuel loads have in­creased the fire risk in the Pil­bara.

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