Rain hampered back-burning
LIGHT rain hampered back-burning operations for the Clarkes bushfire in the Tenterfield area on Monday night, making roads impassable and causing a Rural Fire Service vehicle to get bogged.
“We either need a huge amount of rain or no rain at all so we can back-burn,” RFS public liaison officer David Stimpson said.
“On Monday night it all got a bit slippery and we had to call everyone off. Weather like this sets us back about a day.”
Despite this, the overall situation late yesterday afternoon was ‘going quite well’, Mr Stimpson said.
He said the Paddys Flat fire, west of Old Bonalbo, was now contained and National Parks crews were mopping up the area.
“But as you will appreciate, Paddys Flat and the Clarkes fires are very close together and the only real separation if Clarkes gets any bigger is the Clarence River,” he said.
With 11,824ha now burnt out the RFS still has heavy machinery in the area establishing and strengthening containment lines.
“We are also getting fixed-wing aircraft in to drop fire retardant in the Boat Hole sector,” Mr Stimpson said.
“Then we will send in our remote area firefighting teams to help strengthen the containment lines there.”
With the expectation of more hot and nasty weather tomorrow, Mr Stimpson said they might do some aerial ignition to ensure that bush between the edge of the fire and the containment lines would be burnt.
But while conditions have eased, residents in fire-prone areas must decide early whether to stay and defend their homes or flee as a long, hot summer begins, the RFS has warned.
Last week a lightning storm blitzed north-western NSW, sparking 50 blazes which were fanned by strong, hot winds.
“That’s what we suspect is the significant cause of the majority of the fires we’ve had up there,” RFS spokesman Alex Chesser said.
Grafton airport recorded 47mm of rain in the 24 hours to yesterday morning. Tenterfield and Lismore recorded 2mm.