Fire permits suspended

FIRE permits have been suspended across the region as rural fire service volunteers regroup and challenging weather conditions persist.

Permits for the Tamworth region were suspended from midnight on Monday until midni­ght on December 31, while in the Liverpool Plains area landholders will be able to reapply from January 4.

In the Namoi/Gwydir area permits are suspended until January 2.

While all was relatively quiet around the area on Monday, Superintendent Michael Brooks from the Namoi/Gwydir rural fire service was co-ordinating a response to a fire that was burning about 60km west of Moree off the Gwydir Highway.

He told The Leader on Monday the fire had started about 2pm, with several crews heading to the scene.

He was unsure how it had started but said at 3pm, it was under control and no threat to property.

Superintendent Brooks said it had been a busy season for the service, with the Namoi/Gwydir crews attending 452 incidents since June, more than twice the average number of call-outs. Lightning, he said, was the leading cause of ignition.

“Our volunteers are getting pretty exhausted and at this time of year they have family commitments and responsibilities,” he said on Monday.

“They’re getting pretty thin on the ground.”

Inspector Steve Prior, from the Tamworth Rural Fire Service, said the reduced availability of firefighters during the Christmas period and the workload they’d been coping with in the past few months was behind the suspension of permits.

While permits are suspended, that doesn’t impact the traditional summer barbecue or campfire, but the fire service is warning people to be vigilant.

Inspector Prior said it didn’t take much in hot and windy conditions for a small cooking fire to become a big problem.

“When you’ve finished, put it out ... and make sure it’s out,” he said.

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