HOT weather, gusty winds and thunderstorm activity combined for some dicey fire conditions yesterday, with at least four fires in our region continuing to burn or having been deliberately lit at the weekend.
Conditions meant a total fire ban was in place yesterday for the whole of our region, with a severe rating in place for the North Western district and a very high rating in place for the Northern Slopes and New England.
New England Rural Fire Service (RFS) on-call officer Inspector Tim Butcher said it was important for people to check whether conditions were okay before lighting a fire, even if they had a permit, after a fire lit by a landowner in Armidale on Saturday burnt out up to eight hectares.
The fire was lit on Kirby Rd, near the University of New England, and caused a few anxious moments, with some property under threat.
“We’re still doing a little bit of a mop-up this morning,” Inspector Butcher said yesterday.
“It was deliberately lit; the person had a permit and didn’t realise the permits were suspended. We’ve had a crew up there since 7.30 this morning.”
It looked likely the landowner would be charged, he said.
“Police are handling that investigation and will be taking action,” Inspector Butcher said.
In the Northern Tablelands RFS, Superintendent Chris Wallbridge said they’d had a “couple of small” fires on Saturday and were still dealing with two big bushfires which had started a few days earlier.
One bushfire, at Legume, an hour north-east of Tenterfield, had burnt out 1000 hectares since last Friday and was “being controlled”.
Another bushfire, at Emmaville, started last Thursday morning and was at patrol status.
Superintendent Wallbridge said that fire had burnt out 83 hectares and was under investigation.
Tamworth RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said a suspicious fire broke out on Crown land on Rushes Creek Rd at 4pm on Saturday.
Three appliances – one each from the Rushes Creek, Somerton and Kelvin brigades – attended, as did a tanker trailer from Somerton, with one appliance still patrolling the area yesterday.
Superintendent Purkiss said the fire burnt out six hectares, and piles of timber and a tree were still alight yesterday. The fire is under investigation.
“We’ve got an investigator out there and it’s been passed onto police,” he said.
The Tamworth RFS also had a crew on standby yesterday if further fires started.