SMOKE will continue to blanket parts of Dungowan and Piallamore this weekend as firefighters brace for summer with another round of hazard reductions.
Yesterday marked the start of the three-day burn, which will engulf about 500 hectares in the area to reduce dangerous fuel loads.
RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said the burn along the Goat Mountain fire trail would help to protect a number of houses under direct threat if a bushfire takes hold.
“It will reduce the fuel loads from the area from Kootingal to Limbri-Mulla Creek area, coming across into Piallamore where there is a lot more properties and homes,” he said.
“The prevailing winds push [the fires] that way, so this will give us a fuel-reduced area.”
The RFS said the burn, which will be conducted in a mosaic pattern, was part of a district-wide strategic plan to prepare for summer.
About 15 crews hit the fire ground yesterday to kickstart the hazard reduction, and even more will pile into the area today and tomorrow.
Under environmental requirements, the RFS can only carry out hazard burns in the area every five to seven years to protect native animals and vegetation.
But it hasn’t been easy – last year the same hazard reduction was canned because of continuing rain showers.
“We’re doing it now because we’re getting very close to our window when we can do burns,” Superintendent Purkiss said. “We are starting to get into the warmer weather and August is normally a windy month, so there is not a lot of time left.”
Long-range forecasts are predicting a long, hot and dry summer, which could spell disaster for bushfire-prone areas if preparations aren’t carried out.
“This is another part of the tools we use to protect the community,” Superintendent Purkiss said. “Don’t be alarmed in that area – it will chuff up a bit of smoke.”
Gwydir crews are also in the midst of a hazard reduction burn just out of Warialda in a bid to drive down dangerous fuel loads.
About 80 hectares has been burnt out in the planned burn, with RFS firefighters continuing to patrol the area.