THIS week’s fire emergency a few hours down the road is an ominous prelude to a bushfire season that threatens to erupt.
Two homes, six sheds and two vehicles have been destroyed in the 4000-hectare blaze near Lancefield, which was sparked by a government-controlled burn-off.
Any summer in our hot, dry continent presents fertile bushfire conditions.
But the portents of doom are particularly strong this season.
Just a week into October, and the region is sweltering through an unseasonal mini-heatwave, with the mercury nudging 35 degrees in Wagga on Tuesday.
September was the third driest on record nationwide and forecasters have warned the dry hand of El Nino is likely to extend its reach over much of the continent in coming months.
Couple that with a high fuel-load on the ground, caused by a wet winter and an asphyxiating dry spell, and a dramatic reduction in burn-offs, and you have a recipe for catastrophe.
We don’t have to glance far back into history to see how real the threat is.
The fire crisis that engulfed the Blue Mountains two years ago offers a sobering reminder of how fleeting fate can be in our sunburnt country.
And it was just over 18 months ago that homes were destroyed by a furious bushfire south-east of Wagga.
Despite the freshness of those tragedies, recent surveys suggest only a fraction of residents have proper emergency preparedness plans for bushfires.
The message is simple: if you live near bushland, you need to be prepared for the prospect of a bushfire coming near your home.
Ensure your home is free from debris and old leaves, and keep woodpiles and other flammable materials well away from the house.
Keep your lawn short and the backyard tidy and consider purchasing a portable pump to use from your swimming pool or water tank.
We are on the cusp of a long, hot summer where a perfect storm of factors means the bushfire threat is at a peak. Complacency is as big a threat as the fire itself. It could cost you your house and belongings, or even worse, your life.
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