Bush fire risk set to increase as temperatures rise across Western NSW

Too dry: A Bureau of Meteorology map that shows which areas have received less than average rainfall in recent months. Photo: BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY
Too dry: A Bureau of Meteorology map that shows which areas have received less than average rainfall in recent months. Photo: BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY

Temperatures across the state are expected to move above 30 degrees next week, signalling the start of the fire danger period.

Scattered rain across the state in recent weeks has provided some relief after a drier than average winter but authorities are still preparing for a dangerous summer.

Rural Fire Service media manager Ben Shepherd said the mild start to November had been a welcome reprieve after some record temperatures in September but warned against complacency.

“There have been scattered showers across NSW in the last couple of weeks but for most of Western NSW the average rainfall has been below average,” Mr Shepherd said.

“There was a small pocket through the Riverina where they received good rain but most places are still below where they should be.

“In places like Young and Tumbarumba, the rainfall they received is likely to lead to grass growth and that could prove problematic later in the season when the grasses begin to cure.

“In a lot of Western NSW the grass has been eaten down and there are reduced fuel loads compared to last year in places such as Mudgee, Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst.”

The Bureau of Meteorology has indicated there is a chance of a La Nina, Mr Shepherd said, but that may not bring enough rain to ease the fire risk.

“La Ninas bring increased rainfall but the indications are this one will be minor and short-lived,” he said.

“For the three months between November and January, the chances of exceeding average rainfall are 50-50.

“It looks like we are heading for a neutral fire season but people still need to prepare. There is no room for complacency.”

Mr Shepherd said everyone should have a Bush Fire Survival Plan and practice what they would do if a fire broke out.

For landholders, they should clear areas near houses and sheds of fuel and create fire break around their property.

Rural residents are also advised to stay up-to-date with total fire bans and harvest safety alert, and not use equipment that could start fires during hot, windy days.