Worst bushfire season approaching: Rees

Worst bushfire season approaching: Rees

20 September 2009

published by news.theage.com.au

Australia —

Residents should ready themselves for possibly the worst bushfire season the state has seen, NSW Premier Nathan Rees says.

Hazard reduction burns continued across the greater Sydney area after more than 60 NSW bushfires that sparked on September 13 threatened homes and scorched properties.

Mr Rees declared on Sunday that fire authorities were ready for the bushfire season.

He said the hazard reduction burns were an inconvenience to people with chronic respiratory problems but a necessity to protect homes.

“This is an essential part of being prepared for what could be the highest risk summer that we have ever faced,” Mr Rees told reporters southwest of Sydney.

Thirty areas across NSW have declared their bushfire danger season prior to the official start of October 1.

He referred to findings from the royal commission into the Victorian bushfires that claimed 173 lives in February.

“The recommendations there were simply if conditions are deemed to be catastrophic then the best option and the best advice to people is to leave and leave early.”

NSW has joined other Australian states in introducing a new fire danger rating system ahead of the bushfire season, with a top level warning of “catastrophic”.

NSW Rural Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons joined Mr Rees at the announcement and said bushfire season preparation has soared in terms of dollars and efforts in recent times.

“A handful of years ago we had about $1 million to disperse into mitigation works and hazard-reduction works – today we’ve got record funding of $17 million,” Mr Fitzsimmons told reporters.

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