A TOTAL fire ban was declared across the New England up until midnight last night following the weekend’s warm and windy weather that aggravated fire conditions.
The weather confirms suspicions that this summer could be one of the worst fire seasons in years and comes after a wet period that provided ample amounts of grass fuel across the north.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) issued the weekend ban, in consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), after conditions were forecast to be “very high” in the Armidale Dumaresq, Glen Innes Severn, Guyra, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha council areas.
During the total fire ban, no fire was able to be lit in the open – including incinerators and barbecues burning solid fuel such as wood or charcoal – and all fire permits were suspended.
Not firing up the barbecue could have proven difficult for some, as temperatures reached a top of 31.8 degrees Celsius at Tamworth and a maximum of 28 further north at Tenterfield.
Yesterday, temperatures were cooler, but the windy conditions remained.
Tamworth fell to a maximum of 25 degrees with wind speeds estimated to be about 16km/h throughout the day.
Bushfires raged in the east of the region, where the BOM forecast “severe” conditions in the far north coast area, and several had also been deemed “out of control” at several times in the New England.
No fewer than four bush and scrub fires were attended to by fire crews in the Tenterfield council area on Saturday afternoon. Another five were recorded in the same area yesterday, but were all deemed “under control”.
While none were as severe as those in the coastal areas of Gosford and Wyee, where nearby residents were asked to evacuate and hundreds of firefighters worked to contain the flames, affected New England residents were urged to seek advice and stay up to date in case the situation changed.
As a result of the state’s first fires of the season that threatened homes, Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher urged residents in bushfire-prone areas to prepare now.
“The coming fire season has the potential to be one of the worst in many years and I urge members of the community in those fire-prone areas to heed the RFS’ warnings and get ready,” he said.
The New England’s total fire bans were lifted at midnight and emergency services’ personnel urged residents to clear out gutters and drains before the expected cool change later in the week, which should bring some rain.