Wet weather delays fire season in New South Wales


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Wet weather has slowed fire mitigation efforts in New South Wales, Australia, resulting in only 40 per cent of scheduled works being completed in the past 12 months, with authorities warning that summer fires could be on the way.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has treated 40,000 hectares through burning, grazing and clearing efforts – which will offer asset protection to 47,000 homes in the latest financial year – significantly short of its 102,600-hectare target. The previous financial year saw 176,000 hectares burnt.

However authorities have warned that the wet weather does not mean the risk of summer fires has disappeared.

NSW RFS deputy commissioner of field operations Peter McKechnie said: “While we have seen significant rainfall over most if not all of the state over the last 12 months, including significant flooding events, we have continued to see good growth in the grassland areas.”

He added: “Grass fires just start so easily, they move extremely quickly,” he said. “While all fires are influenced by wind, grass fires are whipped up quickly and the slightest gust of wind in any direction can see the grassfire change direction as well.”

It is hoped that the RFS will be able to give a better indication of the fire risk for the coming season towards the end of August.

McKechnie said people should still prepare for the possibility of fires by taking steps such as removing flammable material from around the home, cleaning gutters, trimming branches and preparing bushfire plans with family or those living on the property.

He added that while 5.5 million hectares of the state had burnt in 2019-20, these areas were regenerating and they would experience fires again.

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