Parts of northern New South Wales should be on high alert for dangerous bushfires early this year, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) has warned.
- August 1 marks the start of the Bushfire Danger Period in parts of northern NSW
- The RFS is particularly worried about the potential for grassfires
- It says the COVID-19 pandemic will likely slow preparations for this year’s bushfire season
The RFS said six Local Government Areas in the region would enter a “Bushfire Danger Period” (BFDP) from today.
Residents in Armidale, Walcha, Uralla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell and Tenterfield are being urged to come up with an emergency fire plan and clear their yards and gutters.
Spokesman James Morris said the RFS was especially concerned about grassfires in the region, given recent rainfall had led to new growth.
“It doesn’t take long for these areas to dry out and see that risk and that’s why we want people to make sure they’re prepared year-round for these fires,” he said.
Warnings to get ready for bushfires are usually issued around August when the weather starts to warm up heading into spring.
This year, RFS leaders know they will also need to make changes to their fire response, while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
“There’s the added pressure of the pandemic as well,” Mr Morris said.
“That will obviously put challenges on a number of functions that are undertaken during a bushfire seasons, like community meetings and evacuation centres.”
Thousands of homes were destroyed during Australia’s “Black Summer” and more than 5 million hectares of land burnt across the state.
While only six councils in the state’s north are currently in the BFDP, Mr Morris said the RFS remained concerned about areas further south that were also devastated by severe blazes.
“We still have a lot of grass and bushland out there that is still yet to burn,” he said.