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RFS urges caution and vigilance ahead of strong winds

Ian Campbell 10 July 2019
File photo: NSW RFS Facebook

File photo: NSW RFS Facebook

The Rural Fire Service through the Snowy Monaro, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley is asking residents to cancel any plans to start new fires and check any old burns given the strength of winds forecast for the rest of the week.

“Revised forecasts by the Bureau of Meteorology indicate there will be strong winds and low relative humidity from Thursday through until at least Sunday,” an RFS statement says.

“Ongoing dry conditions combined with frost cured grasslands have resulted in a number of grass fires over recent weeks and brigades have done well to catch these fires before they became too large.

“The winds and dry air forecast for the rest of the week have the potential to make fire fighting a much more difficult task.

“In light of the most recent weather forecasts, we are asking that people not only refrain from burning but that they also check on any piles they have burnt recently to ensure they are fully extinguished.”

Just last week, Marty Webster, Community Safety Officer for Far South Coast Rural Fire Service told Region Media, that ongoing dry conditions had already started to increase the fire risk with an increasing number of call-outs, mostly grass fires started by hot vehicle exhausts.

“I think especially in the Bega Valley area, with the big fires last year still in people’s minds, we’re seeing that people are being extra cautious about calling us,” Marty says “and we are happy about that. We definitely don’t want to miss anything.”

Winter “used to be our quiet time,” Marty laughs wryly, “we’re very concerned.”

“The bottom line is that for the last few years, we’ve been experiencing drier than average winters,” he says.

If you’re looking to mitigate risk at your place, Marty advises that burning off is not the only way to clean up your property.

“Composting, mulching, mowing, and brush cutting are all really important and effective ways to cut down the amount of fuel around your house,” he says “and we always recommend starting at the house and working your way out.”

Residents seeking further information and advice should contact the RFS, in the Bega Valley – 6494 7400, Eurobodalla – 4474 2855, and Snowy Monaro – 6455 0455. To report fire call Triple O (000).

Checking the forecast for coastal communities in the days ahead, the Weather Bureau is suggesting northerly winds this afternoon (July 10) at 15 to 25 km/h. Turning westerly on Thursday at 35 to 50 km/h, west to northwesterly on Friday at 25 to 40 km/h, and westerly on Saturday at 25 to 40 km/h.

For Snowy Monaro, northwesterly winds today at 25 to 40 km/h increasing to 30 to 45 km/h late evening. On Thursday, winds will be northwesterly at 35 to 50 km/h turning westerly 30 to 45 km/h during the day. Friday, west to northwesterly winds blowing 35 to 50 km/h. Saturday, westerly winds at 25 to 35 km/h decreasing to 15 to 20 km/h during the evening. Blizzard conditions are also possible in the coming days.

Stay in touch with the latest weather and warnings via the Bureau of Meteorology website. For fire updates, news and advice check in with the NSW Rural Fire Service.

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