Early fire dan­ger

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Con­tin­u­ing dry con­di­tions have height­ened the risk of bush fires in the dis­trict this year, prompt­ing the South­ern Rive­rina’s bush fire sea­son to be brought for­ward a month.

The dan­ger pe­riod started on Mon­day in the South­ern Bor­der re­gion, which in­cludes Al­bury, Greater Hume, Fed­er­a­tion and Ber­ri­gan coun­cil ar­eas.

It co­in­cided with the open­ing of the dan­ger pe­riod for the Mid-Mur­ray Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice zone, which in­cludes Mur­rumbidgee and Ed­ward River Coun­cil ar­eas.

NSW Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice Su­per­in­ten­dent Pat West­wood said with warm and windy con­di­tions be­com­ing more con­ducive to the spread of fire, peo­ple need to be ex­tremely care­ful.

Ber­ri­gan RFS Cap­tain Vic Wat­son said be­cause of the con­di­tions fuel loads have cured much ear­lier than an­tic­i­pated.

‘‘There is still a lot of veg­e­ta­tion on the ta­ble drains in par­tic­u­lar, but not so much in the pad­docks,’’ Capt Wat­son said.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing has gone off (cured) a lot quicker than ex­pected and out big­gest fear is a dry light­ning storm.

‘‘All we can ask is for peo­ple to be fire wise and safe — you can’t take any­thing for granted.’’

Grass­lands in the Mid Mur­ray Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice zone, par­tic­u­larly north of De­nili- quin, are also al­most fully cured be­fore the start of the bush fire pe­riod.

Mid Mur­ray In­spec­tor Doug Adam­son said while fuel load­ing is ‘‘pretty scarce’’, there is no room to be com­pla­cent.

‘‘The light fuel loads means grass­fires would be eas­ier to con­trol, but it also means with wind it will travel very quickly and cover a lot of ground,’’ Insp Adam­son said.

‘‘The Mid Mur­ray Zone is con­sid­ered to be 97 per cent grass­land and three per cent for­est area, and ev­ery­thing is drier ear­lier. That means it would also be eas­ier for fires to start.

‘‘The for­est fu­els are a bit dif­fer­ent. There’s not a lot of grass, but there’s a lot of for­est lit­ter and sticks on the for­est floor.’’

Dur­ing the bush fire pe­riod, no burns or fires can be lit with­out ap­proval.

“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 ac­cord­ingly and min­imise the dam­age,” Supt West­wood said.

‘‘Res­i­dent must be aware that if they light a fire, they are re­spon­si­ble for that fire.

‘‘Dur­ing the Bush Fire Dan­ger Pe­riod any per­son wish­ing to light a fire will re­quire a per­mit, free to ob­tain from the RFS.

‘‘Res­i­dents should pre­pare their prop­erty by re­mov­ing flammable ma­te­ri­als from their yards, clear­ing leaves from gut­ters, check­ing hoses can reach all around the house and where ap­pro­pri­ate, con­duct­ing hazard re­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties,’’ he said.

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