Firefighters have been called to a number of fires over the weekend, caused by pile burns on rural properties that have escaped control in dry and windy conditions.
Shortly before 6.30pm on Friday evening, volunteer firefighters from the Mudgee Headquarters, Lawson and Mullamuddy Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigades, supported by a crew from Fire and Rescue NSW, responded to reports of a structure fire at a property in Mount Frome area.
The fast actions of the crews in attendance saw this fire quickly contained, with a shed and a small area of grass damaged.
It was one of two escaped pile burns at that time, with trucks diverted to attend the other incident.
The following afternoon saw the same situation occur in the north of the local region.
Inspector Troy Gersback, of the Cudgegong RFS District, said that current windy, dry conditions mean landowners need to be very careful when attempting any burning, even small pile burns.
"Currently - and as recently as [Sunday] afternoon - we're seeing some quite strong winds pick up as the days progress," he said.
"And what that's resulting in is pile burns escaping landholders' control if they're not being appropriately monitored.
"We had another one in Cooks Gap on Saturday afternoon, which was the same thing, landholder conducting a burn and as a result of high winds it escaped their control. And unfortunately it was a burn that we weren't notified of prior."
Even though it's currently outside the bushfire danger period, and permits aren't required to burn off on your property, there are still precautions that landholders are asked to take.
You still must provide 24 hours notice of your intention to burn to the NSW RFS Cudgegong District Fire Control Centre (on 02 6372 4434 during business hours) and to your neighbours.
And no burns are allowed on days of a Total Fire Ban, information on these is posted daily at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fdr-and-tobans
"We certainly do encourage landholders to undertake these works ahead of the summer period, because obviously conditions at this time of year are typically more favourable," Inspector Gersback added.
"But without any meaningful rain in a significant period of time the landscape is very dry.
"So it doesn't take much for these pile burns to get away.
"These burns need to be done in a manner which is safe and isn't counter-productive, creating more fire than we need to manage at this time of year."
The bushfire danger period usually runs from October until March, however the last two in the Cudgegong District have been extended at both ends - incorporating September and April - due to below average rainfall.
On Sunday (July 21) the Mudgee Airport weather station saw a maximum temperature of 20.4°C, which half a degree short of the July record for the location, accompanied by wind gusts peaking at 50km/h early that afternoon.
This on the back of a dry first half to winter 2019, with just over 10mm recorded for June and July so far.
The blustery conditions of late have been due to two strong cold fronts which recently have brought bursts of wind for New South Wales.
When burning you must:
- Provide 24 hours notice to the RFS and neighbours;
- Have access to water at the fires location;
- Have access to appropriate equipment to maintain control over the fire;
- Have an area of at least 5m cleared around your fire;
- Ensure the fire is 10m away from any structure;
- Supervise the fire at all times.