NSW Rural Fire Service considers bringing bushfire season forward

CONCERN: There are fears about the fire season ahead.
CONCERN: There are fears about the fire season ahead.

DESPITE some recent rainfall, conditions are so dry that firefighters have real concerns the parched Bathurst landscape is “ready to ignite at the drop of a hat”. 

Bathurst has received just 188 millimetres so far this year compared with a long-term average of 403.9mm for the city.

Lithgow and Oberon’s rainfall is also well below average.

And now firefighters are so concerned by the lack of rainfall in Bathurst that bushfire season may be brought forward early.

The bushfire season for the Chifley/Lithow zone, which includes Bathurst, Oberon and Lithgow local government areas, usually runs from October 1 to March 31 each year.

But NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Superintendent Greg Sim said the lack of rain means the bushfire season may be brought forward to September 1.

“The grass is curing faster; it’s almost cured now. It’s ready to ignite at the drop of a hat,” he said.

Supt Sim said because the landscape is so dry, despite a little rainfall in late July/early August, any fire will travel faster and be more intense.

“We’re keeping a close eye on things,” he said.

Supt Sim said a number of planned burn-offs conducted on private property in recent weeks have escaped containment lines and resulted in an emergency call-out to the RFS.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Bathurst’s best chance of rain in the next week is next Wednesday, when showers are possible.