Forecast rain could bring new woes to areas hit by fires
AS FIREFIGHTERS continue to battle the massive fire-front of the combined Long Gully Road and Busby's Flat Fires, there's concern that rain could hamper their efforts.
Rural Fire Services Superintendent Boyd Townsend said predicted rainfall will be a mixed blessing.
He said light rain can make operating heavy earth-moving equipment and fire trucks on steep tracks very dangerous, as the surface becomes extremely slippery.
"It's going to take 50 to 70ml to extinguish the fire, a significant amount of rain is needed, but unfortunately what's predicted over the next few days won't be enough to quell the flames,” he said.
"But if we get 10ml or so of rain on the ground, it becomes too dangerous in the steep country, we can't put in containment lines as we can't operate heavy machinery safely on steep inclines.
"If this happens we will have to let the rain happen then let the tracks dry out, we don't want to put anyone is a situation where they can't get out if a fire flares up.”
Supt Townsend said firefighters are hoping the forecast for cooler temperatures will allow them to undertake back-burning and put in containment lines to coral the mega-fire which is around 120,000Ha.
"We hope the weather will give us an extended opportunity to get some containment lines constructed,” he said.
"If the weather will go quieter for a few days we can prepare with some back-burning after the rain event early next week.”
Supt Townsend said the high level of fuel is a real concern.
"There's that much timber alight, the fire will start moving again and start to ignite and we will be back in similar position with active fire in the landscape,” he said.
"This fire is a long way from being over.
"With winds predicted to change to a southerly influence today we will see smoke towards the likes of Casino and Kyogle, but there is no reason for anyone to be concerned.
"There's no immediate threat in the next couple of days, we will use this time to use containment lines and make them as secure as possible.”
A lack of water is forcing fire-fighters to use other methods such as using earth-moving equipment to carve out containment lines to protect lives and property.
"We are talking to land owners about the earth-works we plan to do on their land so we can try to save as pasture as we can in the containment strategies,” he said.
"There's not so much grass left and we want to help them where we can.”
Supt Townsend said he and everyone else at the RFS was incredibly proud of their volunteers who day in day out have been providing an exceptional response.
"It's an enormous effort by any agency you can name from the RFS to Fire & Rescue, the SES, councils, police, Local Land Services, and many other volunteer,” he said
"Their response has been an enormous effort by many many people.”