LOCAL Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews were last night waiting for a cool change to roll through to ease the fire danger for the North West.
The Liverpool Range RFS zone spent yesterday in the grip of strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity – a recipe for a bushfire disaster.
But fortunately there are only two fires burning at present, one near Middlebrook and the other at Timor, east of Murrurundi, which were hampering RFS crews’ efforts to extinguish the blazes.
Inspector Andrew Luke said all fire permits had been suspended yesterday because of the conditions.
“To see these conditions this early in the season, it’s very concerning,” he said.
“A lot of people have been caught out by the present dry conditions.”
Inspector Luke said crews had been able to get the jump on fires, with many people calling up at the first sign of smoke.
“A majority of fires we are getting we’re able to get crews to quickly before it causes any significant damage,” he said.
Only one hazard reduction has been put on hold until conditions ease.
Meanwhile, in the Namoi Gwydir zone, crews escaped any dangerous blazes despite winds of 70 to 80km/h forecast yesterday.
Inspector Brett Loughlin said the forecasts came off the back of a number of callouts for crews.
“About 7.50pm on Monday we were called to a 10-hectare fire burning along the Namoi riverbank,” he said.
It was in an isolated area, so crews were able to extinguish it.
“We’re treating the fire as suspicious and an investigation is under way,” he said.
It comes after a burn-off escaped at Boggabilla, forcing crews into action at the weekend.
“The fire started from a gentleman using a grinder,” Inspector Loughlin said.
“It burnt around a number of properties and came close to several homes.
“A number of stock were inside the burn area and firefighters had to work hard to protect them, but they managed to save all the stock.”
The fire eventually burnt out about 30ha and destroyed a set of stockyards, as well as a roadside billboard.
Inspector Loughlin said the zone had eight callouts at the weekend, but an RFS team had attacked a few fire hot spots to beat any summer dangers.
“We had a strike team of about 30 volunteers working from about seven fire trucks and we completed about 200ha of hazard reduction last week,” he said.
“Some of the areas included telescope infrastructure ... as well as land prone to get hit by lightning strikes.
“So that’s kept us pretty busy.”
The conditions are expected to ease for firefighters for the rest of the week as temperatures drop, but they’re urging landholders to remain vigilant when burning off and to be mindful of the conditions.