Tamworth grass fire fears during hot summer after wet winter

WITH the third wettest winter on record, and a wet spring to boot, the region’s firefighters are bracing for a busy summer.

FIRE HAZARD: Firefighters are expecting more grass fires this summer, due to the large volume of growth caused by recent rain. Photo: Gareth Gardner 140216GGD02

FIRE HAZARD: Firefighters are expecting more grass fires this summer, due to the large volume of growth caused by recent rain. Photo: Gareth Gardner 140216GGD02

The rain has been a blessing to farmers and landholders, but it has also created a surge of grassy growth – or as firefighters call it, fuel loads.

Tamworth Rural Fire Service (RFS) Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said he was “very concerned” about the larger than average fuel loads.

“When the fuel loads are high, a lighting strike is more likely to cause a fire, a machinery mishap can start a fire, and it can run very quickly,” Superintendent Purkiss told The Leader.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a warmer than average summer, and region will welcome first day of summer with a total fire ban.

“It will be more due to the wind – we can deal with high heats and low humidity, but the wind pushes it along,” Superintendent Purkiss said.

The RFS has carried out a number of hazard reduction burns in between the wet periods – more than 8100 hectares in the Northern Tablelands alone –  but it’s now too hot and dry to do any safely.

A number of walking tracks in the Mount Kaputar National Park have been closed due a severe fire weather warning.

Superintendent Purkiss reminded everyone to be prepared for the next three months.

“Download a bushfire survival plan, chat with the family and talk about what you’re going to do if that situation occurs,” he said.

“For landholders, make sure to have a bare earth break around assets like houses and sheds, and that their fuel loads are low.”

During total fire bans, hot works such as welding and grinding are also banned, along with camp fires, regardless of how secure the fire may seem.

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