DRY TIMES: Gerry Taylor of Sydney enjoys the warm weather by wetting a line in the Richmond River, Ballina.
DRY TIMES: Gerry Taylor of Sydney enjoys the warm weather by wetting a line in the Richmond River, Ballina. Patrick Gorbunovs

Spring starts with fire risk

WITH Lismore on track for its driest August in more than a decade and the heat already closing in, the first day of spring on Sunday brings warnings of bushfire danger and potential tragedies on the region's beaches.

Just 2.2mm of rain has fallen this month, on August 15, and with no rain in sight it seems likely it will remain below the 2.8mm that fell in 2009.

The average for August is 54.9mm, or 47.1mm since readings started being taken at Lismore Airport in 2002.

Across the region it has been just as dry, with Casino recording just 5mm for the month; Byron Bay has had 5.2mm and Ballina has been positively soggy by comparison with 12.4mm.

A roadside grass fire at Yorklea on Tuesday night was quickly contained.

The fire in Ellangowan Rd burnt out about a hectare before being brought under control by the Yorklea Rural Bush Fire Brigade.

Rural Fire Service Northern Rivers operations officer Daniel Ainsworth said conditions in the area were dry and a number of controlled burn-offs were planned before the peak bushfire season.

A big hazard reduction burn will be carried out at New Italy on Saturday involving about 50 volunteer firefighters.

Mr Ainsworth said conditions had dried off quickly in the past week after frosts and that a number of landowners had needed help with hazard reduction burns.

An area south of New Italy known as Serendipity would be targeted next week.

"There hasn't been a major bushfire there since seven dwellings were lost on Christmas Day 2000," he said.

On the region's beaches, surf lifesaving clubs are set for a busy summer season.

Temperatures have been a little above average in August with Lismore having a mean maximum of 23 degrees this month and a top of 27.9 on August 12. The average maximum for August is 22.6 degrees.

Casino has had a mean top of 23.4 degrees, a little above the August average of 22.3.

Byron Bay has had a mean top of 21.1 degrees, just above the average of 20.0 for August.

Ballina's mean top has been 22.8, above the average of 21.2.



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