Drought status more serious

OFFICIAL figures from the Minister for Primary Industries, Tony Kelly, show Northern NSW has slipped into marginal drought conditions.

The figures released yesterday show the region’s drought factor had moved from satisfactory to marginal in the past month.

About 74 per cent of NSW is now battling drought, with the Central Tablelands being the only part of the state with satisfactory rainfall.

The southerly change forecast for last night and today was not expected to be enough to significantly improve conditions.

Rural Fire Service Superintendent Rodney Brown said substantial rainfall was needed to ease fire conditions throughout the region.

“We have lower than average rainfall and higher than average temperatures,” Supt Brown said.

The dry conditions led to a high fire danger being issued for the region.

A team of 12 volunteer fire-fighters from Casino has been fighting blazes in Narrabri for three days; they are expected to return today and will be replaced by as many as 18 volunteers. There were also four staff from Casino assisting with firefighting operations in Narrabri, Glen Innes and Sydney.

Supt Brown said local firefighting capacity had not been affected by firefighting efforts in other parts of the state.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Elly Sparks said winds were expected to return to the north-east some time today.

“There is some chance of showers on Wednesday with a return to fine conditions on Thursday,” Ms Sparks said.

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