THE heat will be on for Riverina firefighters this summer with a combination of abundant grass growth and warmer weather set to fuel potentially horrific fire conditions.
It’s a warning that might not come as a surprise given a number of blazes have already raged across NSW.
Despite a 10 hectare fire which has burned through a heavily timbered red gum area of the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park near Benerembah, the region has been relatively unscathed so far.
Maps released by the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) show a massive area of the state, including the entire Riverina, is predicted to experience above normal fire potential for the 2013/14 fire danger period.
The state’s warmest winter on record, coupled with dry conditions, have prompted a call for all residents, regardless of where they live, to be prepared.
While the start of October traditionally heralds the beginning of the NSW fire season, it officially comes into effect in the Riverina Rural Fire Service (RFS) Zone on November 1, depending on preceding weather conditions.
From that date any person wanting to light a fire will require a permit to do so.
Riverina Zone manager, Superintendent Roger Orr, said the region was on track for a November start to what could be “a very busy fire season”.
“The potential for extreme fire danger and bushfires during the latter part of summer is going to be very high again this year,” Supterintendent Orr said.
“On the worst day, in the worst place, it could be as bad as any other year.”
Superintendent Orr urged residents to take necessary precautions to make sure they were prepared, including slashing firebreaks where possible and having an up-to-date bushfire survival plan.
“The time we find most people look at the plans is when the fire is coming across the hill and that’s far too late,” Supterintendent Orr said.
“Be aware the fire season is coming, (we) appreciate people’s efforts to prevent any outbreak of fire.”
A permanent aircraft will again be stationed at Wagga Airport this year in order to provide assistance where required.
Two new tankers were also handed over to the Big Springs and Brookdale RFS brigades by mayor Rod Kendall late last month.
The category one tankers provide state-of-the-art operational capabilities and will assist volunteers to act quickly in dousing any fire activity.
To put together your Bushfire Survival Plan, pick a copy up from the RFS Riverina Zone headquarters on Fernleigh Road or download it from www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.