Deniliquin and district is at increased risk of bush fires with the predicted run of extremely hot days, Deniliquin firefighters have warned.By Jess Everingham
Deniliquin is expected to swelter through its worst heat wave since February 2009, which was the same time Victoria was devastated by the Black Saturday bushfire event.
Today is the first of five straight days predicted to hit 40°C or higher.
With 20km/h winds also expected today, firefighters are on high alert.
Deniliquin Fire and Rescue NSW station commander Captain Bill Muirhead urged people to call 000 immediately if they see smoke.
‘‘If you see any wisp of smoke — any type of smoke — just get them to dial 000,’’ he said.
‘‘Don’t try and dial the local station
‘‘Better we get onto it quickly, rather than five minutes later.’’
Rural Fire Service Mid-Murray Zone community safety officer, Inspector Doug Adamson, warned Deniliquin is surrounded by bushfire prone areas.
‘‘We’re potentially at risk of everything around us,’’ he said.
‘‘The highest risk areas are generally close to the forest area.
‘‘That’s where the high fuel loads are.
‘‘While you’re going to get the real hot fires adjacent the forest, in the grassland they’re not as hot but they’re fast travelling — equally as dangerous.’’
He expects total fire bans to be announced for the coming days.
He agreed the fire danger would be compounded not just by hot days, but also so many of them in a row.
‘‘It’s potentially dangerous for property, life and the environment. We can lose lots,’’ he said.
The firefighter urged people to prepare a bushfire survival plan, and consider whether they would leave or fight.
‘‘If you’re not prepared or if you’re not fit, you need to consider leaving early if you see smoke,’’ he said.
While Insp Adamson believes it is now too late for people to slash firebreaks around properties, he said people can still prepare.
‘‘They need to get around their home and check everything’s nice and tidy,’’ he said.
‘‘They need to be removing any flammable material from around their homes, especially if they’re exposed on a farm or on the edge of town.’’
He also urged travellers to be aware of fires.
‘‘If there are fires about, know where they are before [you] start [your] journey,’’ he said.
‘‘Don’t be travelling into smoke.
‘‘Apart from visibility, you might actually drive into the fire and that could potentially be fatal.’’
Insp Adamson said not only are fires banned on total fire ban days, but so is ‘‘hot work’’ such as welding, grinding, and cutting.
He also warned that machinery and vehicles in grassy areas can be ‘‘very dangerous’’.
‘‘A hot exhaust can start a fire in these conditions very easily,’’ he said.
‘‘Machines, even mowing or slashing, [are] a potential danger on these hot days.’’
Only gas or electric barbecues are permitted, with certain precautions.
‘‘As long as it’s within 20m of your home, on your block, and you still need to have a clear area around and a good water supply available,’’ Insp Adamson said.
Smokers must be careful with their cigarette butts, he added.
There is also the danger of lightning, and Insp Adamson asked people to be vigilant and report any fires.
‘‘We’ve had a few lightning strikes and fires [in other regions] over the Christmas period already,’’ he said.
The predicted maximum temperatures for the next week, according to the Weather Channel website, are: Friday - 42°C; Saturday - 43°C; Sunday - 42°C; Monday - 41°C; Tuesday - 42°C; Wednesday - 35°C; Thursday - 30°C; Friday - 38°C; Saturday - 37°C.
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