FIRE RISK: The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018 shows fire potential across NSW is above normal.
FIRE RISK: The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018 shows fire potential across NSW is above normal. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Fire threat above normal for upcoming bushfire season

AFTER a horrid start to the bushfire danger period, conditions aren't expected to be any better with a report released last week predicting an above normal fire potential for the Clarence Valley this summer.

The Southern Australia Season Bushfire Outlook 2018 report, published by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, has forecast an above-normal fire potential for the entire east coast of NSW.

The report indicates a dry 2018 has seen NSW suffer a severe rainfall deficiency, and the combination of dry conditions and warmer than average temperatures have combined to increase the fire danger.

Clarence Valley Rural Fire Service district manager Superintendent Stuart Watts said the start of the bushfire danger period was brought forward by a month due to the severity of conditions in the Valley.

"I would agree we're heading towards an above-average potential for fire, given that we've had a horrid start to the bushfire danger period,” Supt Watts said.

"We had to bring the danger period forward a month and we still had a bushfire emergency that ran for a couple of weeks.

"With no foreseeable rain at this point in time, looking at the indicators available, our advice to landholders and people looking to use fire to be careful and play by the rules.”

Despite some significant rainfall totals along the coast, Supt Watts said the rain wasn't enough to reduce the overall risk.

"Some areas around Yamba and Wooli received in excess of 100mm in a couple of days but as we move west it is still dry, and any rain will soon dry up so we'll probably be in the same situation as we were a couple of weeks ago if there isn't any further widespread rain,” Supt Watts said.

Supt Watts said preliminary investigations into last month's bushfire emergency showed some of the fire activity could have been prevented, with some of the fires a result of people failing to keep control of their fires.

"This sort of thing won't be tolerated by the RFS, and we're in a position to issue infringement notices to people who light a fire with disregard to their neighbours,” he said.

"Landholders who intend to use fire need to be fully aware of how dry conditions are, it doesn't take much for a fire to breach containment lines and then it could do some serious damage.