RECENT grass fires across the Northern Tablelands have prompted a stern warning from Tamworth firefighters.
Weekend fires in Tenterfield and Glen Innes have fire crews on high alert and Tamworth RFS superintendent Allyn Purkiss said locals should not become complacent in the winter months.
"The frosts up north of us have been a lot more severe than they have been here, which may be a contributing factor to these fires," Superintendent Purkiss told the Leader.
"It's dried off quite quickly up there and dry grass is certainly more prone to fires like the ones we saw over the weekend.
"Those conditions are pretty standard for that part of the region for this time of year, but it's certainly something I think everyone should be mindful of."
Collectively, the two fires burnt 76 hectares of land, but Superintendent Purkiss said minimal damage was caused to property.
"Fortunately, the crews were quick to get on top of it and limited the amount of damage it could do to assets," he said.
"It was a perfect example of why it is so important to have a cleared and maintained line of at least 20 metres around your assets.
"Doing that allows crews a chance to stop a fire before threatening any assets or property."
Superintendent Purkiss said he was expecting Tamworth's weather conditions to soon be conducive to grass fires.
"We haven't had too many bad frosts down here, which has meant the dry grass hasn't cured and become too much of a fuel," he said.
"However, we are expecting the weather to be quite cool in the coming weeks and we're certainly not ruling out the chance of it happening here.
"That's why we are urging people to be mindful of the risks even in winter and to use this time of the year to be prepared for next season."
After one of the worst fire seasons on record, Superintendent Purkiss said all landholders had a role to play in limiting the risk of fires.
"We really are calling on all landholders to get their properties ready and to be fair most are really on top of it," he said.
"One of our big focuses is on unattended properties and hobby farms that may not have stock helping to eat down feed and potential ground fuel.
"Those landholders need to be aware of their responsibilities because, as we always say, if it's your land it's your fuel."