Australia

Fire incidents are down this year, but forests can still flare up: RFS

NSW Rural Fire Service says there has been a decline in fire incidents in the current season, but forested areas continue to be its “greatest concern” in the Central West.

According to its data, there were 69 incidents of bush and grass fires in Dubbo between July 1 and September 24 this year compared with 90 incidents during the corresponding period last year.

Similarly, Bathurst witnessed 24 fire incidents this year compared with 50 last year.

Mudgee, Cowra, Blayney, Orange and Lithgow also had fewer fire incidents in their respective local government areas.

Forbes was the only place where the fire incidents have slightly gone up.

“The number of incidents in some areas are down due to reduced fuel loads in grass land areas. Forested areas remain the greatest concern leading into this fire season,” the NSW RFS said.

Firefighters said areas such as Lithgow are more prone to fire this year compared with Bathurst and Dubbo, which have mostly grass lands.

“While there will be limited grass fuel loads west of the divide, forested areas will have an increased fire risk this year. Forested areas also surround areas of greatest density of population,” the NSW RFS said.

The fire agency said a drier and warmer than average spring has contributed to the increased chances of fire this season.

“October and November are likely to be drier than average west of the divide, with even odds of receiving above average rainfall on the east coast. Significant falls are required to reduce the current rainfall deficit.”

The NSW RFS said about 67 per cent of households in bushfire-prone areas have some form of a plan to deal with the situation.

The agency, however, was worried about illegal burns.

It said firefighters had attended to more than 200 illegal burns, many of which were carelessly allowed to escape and spread, since the beginning of July.

It asked people to review their firefighting plans and follow its five-point advice:

  • Trim overhanging trees and shrubs
  • Mow grass and remove cuttings
  • Remove combustible materials that can burn from around your home
  • Clear and remove all debris and leaves from your gutters
  • Prepare a sturdy hose or hoses that will reach all around your home.

Preparation by firefighters this season:

  • ​A record deployment of four large air tankers
  • Two aircraft are currently based at the Richmond RAAF Base; a further two will arrive in early November
  • One of these large air tankers will be based in Dubbo
  • The NSW RFS will have more than 100 aircraft at its disposal
  • A record 33 aircraft will be contracted in NSW this season

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