12 March 2021

Autumn smoke haze part of essential fire protection work

| Michael Weaver
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A NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer surrounded by bushfire smoke.

A NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer near Taralga. Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service.

The haze of hazard reduction smoke is almost synonymous with autumn across the NSW south-east but this year authorities are urging residents to be forewarned in order to prevent triggering any bushfire-related anxiety.

With the Black Summer bushfires still looming large in many people’s memories, this year’s burns are more important than ever.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is carrying out a number of hazard reduction burns near many properties that were affected by the Black Summer bushfires but not directly impacted by the flames. A spokesperson said they were essential to reduce the potential spread of wildfires to nearby properties and habitat, and were being coordinated with assistance from the NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW.

The burns are being carried out on the Far South Coast, in the Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven and Southern Tablelands areas.

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NPWS branch director Mick Pettitt said smoke from the burns may be a trigger for some people after the bushfires but they were necessary.

“Undertaking these burns will help manage the potential risk of bushfire to communities and the environment, and provides firefighters with safe zones and access where they can defend properties should a bushfire occur,” he said.

“These areas were not directly impacted by fire in either the summer of 2019-2020 or 2020-2021, and it is important these burns go ahead to help protect residents from future fire events. It will also help to maintain biodiversity and reduce fuel loads in the area.

“We thank our neighbours for their understanding. People with asthma or who are susceptible to respiratory problems are advised to keep clear of the area or stay indoors.”

The NPWS was forced to postpone a similar burn in Brindabella National Park, near Canberra, earlier this month due to concerns that smoke would impact local grape-growers who were heavily affected by smoke taint from the Black Summer bushfires.

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The 600-hectare burn in the Powerline area, just across the NSW/ACT border to the west of Canberra, will be held when conditions are more suitable.

“Smoke from the burn program may be visible in the Canberra area, in Wee Jasper and in the Brindabella Valley for a number of days,” Mr Pettit said.

Details on specific burns will be made available in advance on the NSW Rural Fire Service website, as well as the ‘Fires Near Me’ app, and on the NPWS Alerts website, which also includes updates on resulting park closures.

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