Tamworth Rural Fire Service has had to postpone scheduled winter backburns for the second year in a row at Dungowan Dam.
In a frustrating chain of events, the RFS was unable to complete the scheduled backburn last winter because the area had become too wet, while this year the area remains too dry to safely carry out the hazard reductions.
Tamworth Superintendent Allyn Purkiss said the window of opportunity was quite short.
“We can’t do any at this stage: it is just too dry,” he said.
“We couldn’t do Dungowan last year because it rained for about three weeks and it was too wet, but then it stopped raining all together and now it is too dry.”
The service is also looking to do some hazard reduction burns in grasslands and forest areas in the higher country near Hanging Rock.
“We have height restrictions on the flames that protect the habitat, but it is so dry that we wouldn’t be able to hold it down at the moment,” Supt Purkiss said.
“We just need it to cool down a bit and get a shower of rain and we are right to go.
“The funding is in place, the plans are drawn up and we have aircraft lined up, we just need an inch or two of rain.”
Recently the RFS extended its statutory Bush Fire Danger Period from April 1 until May 1, meaning that anyone wishing to light a fire during that period required a permit.
However, just three days after that period ended, the Tamworth RFS has already attended two fires from private landholders carrying out backburns that got away.
“People are underestimating the conditions – if possible we would like to see private landholders hold off wherever possible until it cools down a bit more,” Supt Purkiss said.
“If landholders must have a fire they need to understand the conditions, have enough fire protection to control those fires and have a really good break around them – and they must stay with the fire at all times.”
Last week the Climate Council announced that last month was the hottest and driest on record.
Meanwhile, the Liverpool Plains RFS is having similar issues, although do not have any really pressing areas that are in drastic need of hazard reduction burns, according to Superintendent Tim Butcher.
“We are not in a position to do any burning at the moment – it is just too hot and dry,” he said.
“It is a concern, because the fire season is not over – the fires a few weeks ago in Menai can attribute to that.
“We are asking people to remain cautious, because if we get a really windy storm at the moment it could just take off really quickly.”
The region recorded just 13mm of rain last month.
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