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Early start to fire season

SERIOUS CONCERN: Viewed from Goonellabah, the spate of fires turned the sunset red yesterday.
SERIOUS CONCERN: Viewed from Goonellabah, the spate of fires turned the sunset red yesterday. Cathy Adams

RURAL Fire Service firefighters spent yesterday battling several fires largely caused by out-of-control bush fire hazard reduction burns on properties.

RFS Northern Rivers operations officer Daniel Ainsworth said two significant blazes, one about 30km south-west of Casino and another at Billy Goat Mountain, about 15km north-west of Lismore, were keeping volunteers busy.

"Yesterday we had concerns about properties near those fires, but today no properties are under threat. It's our saving grace," he said.

"Unfortunately a lot of landowners got caught out by the dry conditions while doing hazard reduction burns. "They usually do burn this time of year, but it's just so dry."

Unfortunately, he added that if the fires worsen there is no guarantee properties will still be in the clear.

Mr Ainsworth said 10 firefighters and two brigades were at Billy Goat Mountain yesterday, while five firefighters and two brigades fought the fire south-west of Casino.

"We were out fighting fires until 2am last night and we were back out at 7am this morning," he said.

"We're going to be busy today and the firies' will be out past dark. It should be easier for us to stamp them out then."

Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe said winds picking up this morning, combined with a lack of rain and reasonably high temperatures, will keep testing firefighters.

"There's a chance of light rain on Saturday, but it's more coastal so may not reach Lismore," he said.

Mr Ainsworth was confident the RFS's 1200 Northern Rivers' volunteers, 300 to 400 of which work "on the end of a hose", were well equipped to tackle the fires.

The bush fire danger period officially starts today, due to the dry conditions. It usually starts October 1.



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