FULL ALERT: Byron Bay Rural Fire Service deputy captain Steve Cullen is very aware of the pending danger after fighting fires in the Wilsons Creek area last month.
FULL ALERT: Byron Bay Rural Fire Service deputy captain Steve Cullen is very aware of the pending danger after fighting fires in the Wilsons Creek area last month. Doug Eaton

Long, dry spell spells danger in peak period

NORTHERN Rivers firefighters are bracing for the busiest time of the year.

October through until the end of December is traditionally the driest time and it's going to tell according to Northern Rivers Community Safety Officer Superintendent Boyd Townsend

Superintendent Matt Inwood, of the NSW Rural Fire Service, is also concerned about the long, dry spell the region has seen this year.

“With very little rain since the May floods, things have dried out and with July's westerly winds, the groundfill has dried substantially,” he said.

The last major fire season on the North Coast was in 2002 - 03. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting higher than average day and night time temperatures for the next three months so fire training workshops are underway and householders are being made aware of how to make their properties fire safe.

Yesterday a fire was still burning along Collins Creek Road, north-east of Kyogle and was under the control of a team of 22 firefighters who were backburning the area. More than 800 hectares is expected to burn in the next few days.

Fifteen properties adjoin the Kyogle fire area but no one had been evacuated, Supt Townsend said yesterday.

“At this stage, conditions are good for the operation.”

A Buddhist retreat in the fire region is expected to be surrounded by the main blaze of the fire and backburning.

The 30 people in residence, many of them from overseas, have been reassured by group officers that there is no need to leave the property.

With the weather expected to be hotter by Friday, Supt Townsend is confident the Collins Road fire will 'be contained over the next two to three days'.

The cause of the Kyogle fire that ignited last Sunday is currently under investigation.

For householders across the Northern Rivers this is the time to protect properties and reduce fire hazards around the home.

Supt Townsend recommends putting a fire plan in place, especially if 'grandma and the kids' need to be evacuated.

FIRE PROOFING YOUR PROPERTY
• Maintain cladding and roofs to prevent ember fires.
• Clear space under floors
• Mow lawns and trim overhanging trees.
• Thin treetops so they don't connect and carry fire to another tree.
• Clear all rubbish and timber around the house.
• Make sure access to your property is clear for a fire truck.
• Ensure your property is clearly marked, preferably with property numbers.
• Make a fire plan. Decide if you will stay and defend or evacuate. Assess the needs of elderly/disabled and young children when making your fire plan.
For more information check outwww.rfs.nsw.gov.au or phone your local rural fire service.


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