AUSTRALIA – Firefighters are already scrambling to prepare for bushfire season in New South Wales as six areas are put on alert.
The local government areas of Armidale Regional, Walcha, Uralla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell and Tenterfield are preparing for fires in the coming weeks after huge downpours left them with excess grass.
Authorities are expecting the grass to dry out in the coming weeks due to warmer weather, making it the perfect conditions for blazes to begin.
Last year, Tenterfield was one of the hardest hit areas during the last bushfire season, where 5.5 million hectares of land burned across NSW and 2,476 houses, 284 facilities and 5,559 outbuildings destroyed.
Twenty-six people died during the NSW bushfire crisis.
Peter Petty, Tenterfield Shire mayor, said the region had no choice but the prepare for what the 2020 bushfire season will hold.
These are the local government areas of Armidale Regional, Walcha, Uralla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell and Tenterfield (pictured, a bushfire in on the New England Highway)
‘If we didn’t learn anything from 2019, we don’t deserve to be on earth.’
The New South Wales bushfire season saw exhausted firefighters battle blazes that spread across the state to an extent never experienced before, Shane Fitzsimmons said.
The former NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner described the 2019-2020 bushfires as extraordinary and unprecedented in terms of weather, fire behaviour and the widespread damage, destruction and tragedy.
The former commissioner’s replacement, Rob Rogers, warned the people in the six local government areas starting their Bushfire Danger Period to be wary.
Commissioner Rogers said: ‘While an early fire season is not unusual in these areas, increased grass growth due to recent rain could prove problematic over coming weeks and months
‘Land holders and firefighters are reporting increased grass growth, particularly west of the divide. Once dry or cured this will bring an unwelcome threat of grass fires.
Droughts in areas such as Tenterfield (pictured) meant that farmers have lessened some of their stock so their are no animals to eat the excess grass
‘Grass fires can be especially dangerous because they start quickly and spread rapidly, destroying not only homes and stock, but also lives and livelihoods.’
Commissioner Rogers said the 2019-2020 bushfire season was unprecedented in terms of lives and homes lost.
‘We cannot be complacent coming in to this season thinking that we won’t see fire activity again,’ Commissioner Rogers said.
‘Bush and grass fires can strike at any time and it is vitally important to be prepared.
‘This means doing simple things like cleaning your gutters, removing combustibles from your yard, ensuring hoses can reach all corners of your property and completing or updating your bush fire survival plan, so you and your family know what you will do in the event of a bush fire.’
He also encouraged households to update their bushfire survival plan to make sure everyone in the family knows what to do if a fire threatens their home.
Commissioner Rogers said it could save lives.
RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd told Daily Mail Australia similar areas started their bushfire season around this time last year.
But he stressed there were fewer areas than in 2019, and fires are not unusual in these areas due to dry grasslands.
‘There has been increase grass growth in these areas due to recent rains and they’re not dry at the moment but they do pose a risk due to hot and windy weather forecasted over the next few weeks and months,’ Inspector Shepherd said.
RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd told Daily Mail Australia similar areas started there bushfire season around this time last year (pictured, fires on New England Highway)
Video playing bottom right…
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He said the local bushfire management teams signalled the start of the season now so that land owners would have to notify them when doing burning on their property.
Many of the communities are only just starting to find their feet after the devastation of the 2019-2020 bushfire season.
‘It is unlikely we will have a season as devastating as last year but we are monitoring the situation closely,’ Inspector Shepherd said.
He said rains have caused significant grass growth but due to the horrifying drought that plagued Australia during the bushfire season last year, many farmers have lessened their animal stocks.
This means there are few animals to eat the grass.
He said this and forecasted weather ‘will pose a risk’ but Australia and the Rural Fire Service are in a ‘better position’ to battle the blazes.
RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd told Daily Mail Australia similar areas started their bushfire season around this time last year (pictured: RFS volunteers battle blaze between Ulladulla and Bateman’s Bay)