The Rural Fire Service is reminding residents and landholders to remain vigilant this Summer as four fires continue to burn during the hottest days of the season so far.
The local RFS have been under the pump for the last six weeks, with two of the fires started on December 17 from lightning strikes, while thick scrub, inaccessible terrain and temperatures pushing the mercury beyond 40 degrees all contributing.
While the fires are contained the most hazardous remains a blaze at Scrub Creek near Hanging Rock.
As of 12:30pm there are currently 23 bush and grass fires across #NSW with two uncontained.— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 8, 2018
Aircraft reconnaissance is underway in areas that have been affected by lightning. Fire danger will rise over the next few hours peaking mid afternoon. #NSWRFSpic.twitter.com/VmA010IWAe
RFS Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said two remote air crews had to be winched in on Saturday to make a hand tool line below the fire.
“It is behind containment lines but not contained,” he said.
“We are watching that closely and making another dozer line to the east in case the creek doesn’t hold.”
Another fire at Bald Rock in Warrabah National Park has also been causing some concern, after jumping containment lines three times in as many weeks.
Helipads have been cut into the scrub by the National Parks Service, who are also using helicopters to dump water on the fires straight out of the Namoi River.
“It is also hard to access but is contained – we are watching it and letting it burn now – it is good fuel reduction,” Supt. Purkiss said.
“The problem with steep country like that is that burning logs drop and roll down the hill starting fresh fires.”
Over the past 12 hours there has been significant lightning activity across #NSW. Today aerial reconnaissance teams will be patrolling looking for any new outbreaks of fires. If you do see an unattended fire report it to Triple Zero. #NSWRFSpic.twitter.com/RC9Vkt0iTz— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 7, 2018
Another fire near the National Park on Namoi River rd is under control and “being patrolled by local Manilla crews”, while the fourth fire at Roseneath near Watson’s Creek is also being controlled after crews managed “to put a black edge all the way around it” over the past week.
“We have had a lot of support from out of area crews which has been good,” Mr Purkiss said.
“Three strike teams from the north and mid north coast left on Monday morning.”
“We had about 12 extra trucks split up into different crews – we have been going flat out for a few weeks so it was very handy to be able to give them a spell.”
RFS suspend all fire permits
The NSW Rural Fire Service has suspended all fire permits on the back of an exhausting six weeks on the front line across the region.
Extra crews from other regions have been called on to help our embattled RFS, with four fires still burning on Monday afternoon.
Usually fire permits are suspended during periods rated as Extreme or Very High fire dangers, although Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said that with crews already stretched and scorching temperatures it was simply a risk management decision.
“It means no lighting fires at all in the open – cooking fires less than a metre by a metre are still allowed,” he said.
A total fire ban is once again in place for the #Sydney and #Hunter areas today. Hot and windy conditions are forecast. Review your fire plan this morning and know what you will do in the event that your home or property is threatened by fire today. #NSWRFSpic.twitter.com/FyGo73r53p— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 7, 2018
“All National Parks in the state have a full fire ban, including cooking fires, while both Chaffey Dam and Lake Keepit have also banned all fires.”
Supt. Purkiss also reminded residents to be vigilant with lawn mowing, slashing, grinding, welding and cutting during these heat waves.
“If you absolutely have to, do it early in the morning, and if you are doing any hotwork you must have fire fighting equipment at hand.”