SUMMER has yet to grip the Bathurst region, but firefighters and landholders are still bracing themselves for what is building to be one of the most ominous bushfire seasons in recent times.
Hot winds and little rain, on the back of significant new growth following the breaking of the drought, have left the region a tinderbox.
And that is a recipe for disaster, according to RFS superintendent and Chifley Lithgow team manager Tom Shirt.
“We are certainly anticipating a more difficult season,” Supt Shirt said.
“All the indicators predict that we are moving back into normal seasonal weather patterns. Essentially that means less humidity and rising temperatures, all the factors conducive to producing bushfires.
“And the biggest problem we face at the moment is the increased amount of fuel on improved land such as pastures.
“We are coming out of a long period of drought and, as a result, growth in paddocks and among native vegetation has been significant.
“And we will continue to see the weather warm up and the grass cure off and that is when the potential for grass fires is at its greatest.
“The larger amount of growth we’ve had will eventually die off and that matter has great potential to carry fire.”
Supt Shirt warns that this cocktail of conditions means it is now time for landholders to prepare their properties for bushfires.
RFS crews in bushfire prone areas, such as Raglan, have already distributed copies of the Bushfire Survival Plan to residents and Supt Shirt is urging people to take the time to complete the documentation.
“The most important message to get across is that everyone living in a bushfire prone area must have a Bushfire Survival Plan,” Supt Shirt said.
He is concerned by NSW RFS statistics that indicate people continue to procrastinate when it comes to planning for facing a bushfire – despite the horrific toll the natural disasters have taken across the country in the last decade.
“Unfortunately, our statistics tell us that people are just not doing their homework,” he said.
“Plenty of bushfire survival planning kits have been picked up from the RFS, but it appears people are not taking the time to complete their plan – and that is a big worry.
“Planning to make a plan is of no benefit, people need to realise that they must take action and complete a survival plan.”
The RFS promotes proper planning as the best preventative measure and it’s aimed at saving life and property.
Supt Shirt says some crucial points for discussion in the Bushfire Survival Plan include understanding your level of risk, knowing how best to prepare your property and what escape routes are available, and knowing how you will monitor the situation (including using social media and iphone apps).