Early fire danger
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.