Whirlwind preview to fire season

Whirlwind preview to fire season

 26 August 2008

published by www.dailyexaminer.com.au

Australia — It looks like a tornado, but the thick plume of smoke spiralling above South Grafton aerodrome was something much more familiar to the country setting a grass fire out of control.

A build up of hay and surface fuels is thought to have produced this spectacular smoke spiral. Photo: Allan BeechSunday’s blaze, which about 20 South Grafton and Grafton firefighters battled for 90 minutes, acted as a timely reminder the spring/summer bushfire danger period is only a matter of days away. South Grafton station commander Dennis Pye said the aerodrome fire appeared to have been deliberately lit.

“For one reason or another, someone has started the fire,” he said.

“It wasn’t reported as a controlled burn-off and there was no-one onsite when we arrived.”

Meanwhile, drier than expected conditions over the past month and a strong early growing season have meant there was more ‘fuel’ on the ground across the Valley.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has predicted further burn offs in the Clarence Valley before the beginning of the official bushfire danger season in September.

RFS Clarence Valley district manager Brett Condie warned private landholders to ensure adequate containment lines, weather monitoring and precautions were in place before beginning any hazard reduction.

Although the weather bureau has forecast possible light showers later in the week, Mr Condie said they were unlikely to significantly alter the long-term overall fire danger across the Valley.

“Vegetation and surface fuels are still fairly flammable,” he said.

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