Rural Fire Service urges caution as fire risk increases

Gearing up: The Rural Fire Service is prepared for action as the region becomes drier and the temperature rises. Photo: FILE
Gearing up: The Rural Fire Service is prepared for action as the region becomes drier and the temperature rises. Photo: FILE

With heatwave conditions forecast for Grenfell again this week and after being kept busy by blazes started from lightning strikes last week, the Rural Fire Service is urging people to avoid activities that could start a fire during the current hot weather.

Crews across the region have been on high alert to respond quickly to spot fires caused by widespread lightning strikes and were also concerned with the mercury rising over 35 degrees on Friday.

RFS Western zone manage Paul Smith said the biggest threat would come from people who tried activities like slashing, grinding, welding near dry grass, where a stray spark could cause havoc.

“We aren’t expecting conditions to be too bad because there aren’t strong winds forecast, it is still quite humid, and some places have had a bit of rain,” he said.

“However the hot weather is drying everything out and a spark from machinery or tools could start a fire that could spread quite easily.

“So we are asking people to be aware of that and act accordingly.”

Mr Smith said there had been no significant blazes come from the lightning activity but there had been dozens of small fires across the region, mostly in trees, that had kept crews busy.

In a bid to spot any fires early, the RFS was using reconnaissance aircraft during the week, especially in heavily timbered areas.

“We covered a big region, from Boorowa and around Wyangala Dam, up to Mudgee and the Goonoo Forest and back down to the Lachlan Valley, Parkes and Forbes,” Mr Smith said.

“There is a spotter in the aircraft who is in constant radio contact so if they see any signs a crew can be sent out to deal with the fire as quick as possible,” he said.

Get Ready Now

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is urging residents to get ready now for another period of high temperatures and increased fire danger, with temperatures across the state set to soar above 40 degrees today and over the weekend.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said some areas are likely to experience Severe fire danger on Friday, with hot and dry conditions to persist across the weekend.

“Temperatures will reach the mid-40s in a number of areas and the Bureau of Meteorology forecast indicates there is little relief in sight, with little to no rain forecast during the coming hot spell,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

The NSW RFS recommends people living in bush fire prone areas to get ready now:

* Make or review your bush fire survival plan - decide now what you will do if a fire starts near you 

* Check the fire danger for your area - look out for the roadside signs and know the fire danger rating