IT’S not only locals feeling the heat as the mercury climbs, with a total fire ban slapped on the region.
The Rural Fire Service has suspended all fire permits as it moves to alleviate any fire breakouts with hot and windy conditions forecast.
The Northern Slopes, including Tamworth as well as the New England and North West areas, are under a total fire ban until midnight tonight, forcing any planned burns onto the backburner.
RFS Inspector Steve Prior said local firefighters were hoping to be on the front foot as the warm trough rolled in.
“All permits that have been issued are suspended for that 24-hour period,” Inspector Prior said.
“The conditions and obviously the increased temperatures and the forecast winds bringing more hot air are conducive to fires escaping control and being difficult to suppress.”
The fire ban will mean about 30 or 40 permits in the Tamworth region are suspended until the ban is lifted.
If the forecasters are right in their predictions, the mercury should hover around 29 degrees today before hitting a maximum of 32 in Tamworth tomorrow.
Coupled with a breeze, it could spell disaster for anyone who breaks the rules and sparks up.
“It is dangerous for not only fires escaping onto a neighbouring property, but it also increases the danger for firefighters who have to try and bring it under control,” Inspector Prior said.
“As well, there are severe penalties; lighting a fire under a total fire ban brings a fine of $5500.”
Those who light a fire that escapes onto a neighbouring property could not only be held accountable for the damage, they could also face up to five years in jail or a $110,000 fine.
Fire crews will reassess the conditions this afternoon before deciding whether or not to extend the 24-hour ban.