Fire authorities are urging communities to remain vigilant as North East Victoria and Southern NSW face an “escalation” of fire danger.By Fiona Blick
Despite a brief reprieve to the scorching temperatures, fire authorities are urging communities to remain vigilant as North East Victoria and Southern NSW face an “escalation” of fire danger.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said holiday makers needed to be aware that campfires are not permitted within State Forests or National Parks or outside these areas on days of Total Fire Ban and warned residents “the fire danger in the local area is beginning to escalate.”
“This is one of the worst fire danger periods on record for NSW. I cannot say it more plainly: the risk is real and potentially deadly. People need to act now,” he said. “As the weather is predicted to remain hot over the coming days all residents and holiday makers should have a well practised Bush Fire Survival Plan so they are prepared to make life saving decisions quickly in the event of a fire.”
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said with Total Fire Bans in place across Victoria knowing when to leave on a severe and extreme fire danger day could prove a life-saving decision.
“Victoria is one of the most fire prone areas in the world and on a bad day like we have just experienced fires can travel extremely quickly. Smoke on the horizon can be a fire on your doorstep in minutes,” Mr Ferguson said. “Only those whose properties were well prepared and equipped with firefighting equipment should consider actively defending their home. On a severe, extreme or code red days leaving the night before or early in the morning is the only way to guarantee you and your family’s safety.”
The CFA is expecting a higher than average risk of grassfires this season, especially in the west of the state.
“Grassfires can be just as dangerous as bushfires. Grassfires spread rapidly, travelling at speeds of up to 25 km/hr and quickly threatening lives and properties,” Mr Ferguson said.
In Yarrawonga the temperature started to warm up last Thursday with 35.9 degrees, an ominous sign of what was to come; Friday’s temperature rose to 40.5 degrees. Saturday blew the January record out of the water with a blistering 45.7 degrees, the highest temperature to be recorded for January since records began in 1879 and the second highest temperature ever. The previous highest January temperature was on January 31, 2009 when it reached 44.3 degrees and Yarrawonga’s highest temperature for any month was recorded again in 2009, on
February 7 (Black Saturday), peaking at 46 degrees.
Sunday was slightly ‘cooler’ with a reading of 41.5 and Monday’s temperature peaked just shy of 42 degrees. Tuesday followed suit, making it five days in a row with temperatures over 40 degrees.
Interestingly, the weather over the tragic Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 saw 14 consecutive days with temperatures of 38 degrees or more from the last week of January and into February.
Thankfully the weather gods have given us a little reprieve from the scorching weather experienced over the past five days; according to the latest forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology Wednesday should only be 27 degrees, a welcome relief to the previous soaring temperatures.
It is predicted to reach 39 degrees on Friday, however temperatures are not expected to climb much higher in the short term, bringing some welcome relief and recovery from last week’s ‘trial by fire’.
The local CFA brigade can offer good advice for local conditions and there are tips on the CFA website or you can call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800240667.
For more information on current fire bans and threats visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or www.cfa.vic.gov.au .
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