Rural Fire Service crews conducting a burn-off at Byron Bay last week.
Rural Fire Service crews conducting a burn-off at Byron Bay last week.

Coast faces high risk of fire

FIRE authorities are bracing for a dangerous fire season and have warned that coastal areas are at greatest risk.

Laurence McCoy, of the North Coast Rural Fire Service, said crews had this year been focusing their hazard prevention burn-offs on the coast. “We're concentrating on coastal areas because they are the driest and they tend to dry out the quickest because of the sandy soil,” Mr McCoy said.

Hazard reduction burns have already been conducted at Lennox Head, Wardell and Evans Head.

Last week the RFS and NSW Fire Brigade conducted a major burn in a residential area of Byron Bay that adjoins the Arakwal National Park.

The steep, gullied 1.1ha area was heavy with fuel and had not been back-burned for at least 30 years, which posed a particular danger to nearby homes, Northern Rivers NSW Fire Brigade duty commander Chris Fabri said.

The Far North Coast fire season officially begins on September 1 and Mr McCoy said that in spite of the winter rain the season was drying out very quickly.

“We're already starting to see a number of grass fires,” he said.

Northern Rivers Rural Fire Service manager Michael Brett encouraged landowners to do their own burn-offs while conditions were favourable, but warned it should be done responsibly.

“We've started to see an increase in fires escaping from private properties, and while it is the optimum time to do it safely, we would encourage people to burn safely and responsibly and to ensure they have containment lines in place,” he said.

In the wake of the royal commission into the Victorian bushfires, NSW fire-fighting policies and procedure will be under review in the next few weeks.

But Mr Brett said it was too early to say exactly what might change.



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