Rural Fire Service predicts fire danger to peak in February after mild start to summer


January 2017 saw some devastating bush fires including those that destroyed thousands of hectares but a milder summer has fire fighters optimistic 2018 will be better.

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Lower temperatures and occasional rain has kept conditions better and despite some hot weather over the Christmas-New Year period, the Rural Fire Service isn’t expecting to see a high fire danger period until the end of the month.

However RFS Region West manager Paul Smith said the February and March could be bad months if more rain doesn’t come and is urging people to remain vigilant.

“Because of the dry wind and hot days in the last couple of weeks a lot of moisture has disappeared from the ground and there is more combustible material,” Mr Smith said.

“However there was also widespread rain around the region that delivered between 10 and 30 millimetres so that has helped.

“The number of fires are significantly down on what we would expect for summer but we expect more hot days so the end of January and February are when we expect the fire danger period to start.”

The number of fires RFS members had to attend in recent weeks was significantly lower than the same period in recent years, Mr Smith said.

“Most of the fires were only small. There was the fire at the pub at the Barringun, which was a real shame for residents there,” he said.

“We didn’t have any big fires that burned a lot of ground or caused a lot of damage. “The good work of our volunteers ensured that any fires that did break out were quickly contained.”

The only fire burning in Western NSW on Tuesday according to the RFS was a 15-hectare grass fire at Gooloogong, near Cowra.

Information from the Bureau of Meteorology suggested temperatures would get hotter in the coming weeks, Mr Smith said.

“We haven’t really had a lot of what I’d call fire days, which are days that are really hot, dry and windy, so the danger was quite low,” he said.

“I would expect that we might start to see some more total fire ban days in the coming weeks.”

He asked people to look for fires and report them to triple-zero early to ensure they could be contained.

“Most people have a break in January and they should use that time to make a fire plan in case they need it,” Mr Smith said.