VIDEO: Local brigades are ready to fight

AS BUSHFIRES sweep the nation and total fire bans continue, local brigades are on standby with heatwave conditions still at extreme levels.

The total fire ban included the lower central west plains encompassing Dubbo, Forbes, Lachlan, Narromine, Parkes, Temora and Wellington.

Rural Fire Service (RFS) community safety officer Kennedy Tourle said weather conditions in the Orana region were replicating those in fire ravaged areas like Tasmania and Victoria, and it was a major concern.

"We do not want to see that kind of devastation in our region," she said.

Extreme temperatures, wind and fuel in the form of dry grass had the region's 900 volunteers and 61 brigades on standby all weekend.

District Officer Mark Pickford said the Fire Control Centre had been open both Saturday and Sunday in preparation for any flare-ups over the weekend.

Mr Pickford said he expected fire bans to be in place for a few more days yet.

"We are ready but we're a bit nervous, there's been lightning around the region and all it takes is one strike to ignite a massive fire," he said.

Mr Pickford said the RFS anticipated Tuesday would be the highest risk day of the week.

"The temperature will be high and there will be wind - we have extra staff ready to go," he said.

“We are in full preparedness with nearly all the brigade’s units having taken a test run to check equipment, especially batteries and pumps.”

“Everyone is very edgy at the moment.”

An aeroplane, Bomber 271, had arrived and was also on standby behind the airport to deploy large amounts of water when required.

Over the weekend Mr Pickford said fire trucks were called out to a number of fires around Dubbo with one of those appearing to be deliberately lit.

About 3.30am Saturday, Dubbo police and the NSW Rural Fire Service responded to reports of five grass fires along the Newell Highway near Brocklehurst. 

The fires were eventually extinguished but are being treated as suspicious.

The flames and smoke caused one lane of traffic on the Newell Highway to be temporarily closed.

Another incident at Ponto Falls, near Wellington, saw at least two units securing a blaze for most of Saturday which was caused by a campfire.

Mr Pickford said the campfire had “gotten away” and a nearby tree had caught alight.

He said the tree had to be dug out with a bulldozer to prevent it from acting like a “candle” in its ability to spread fire across a wide area if not quickly dealt with.

Mr Pickford asked the public to be vigilant with items they may not consider to be an obvious fire risk.

“With grasses nearly 90 per cent cured, a small spark or extreme heat can cause fuel to ignite,” he said.

Items like angle grinders, mowers and even slashers are commonly known to start fires and Mr Pickford reminded residents to be vigilant with machinery, especially those in rural environments.

He also noted a recent incident where a car’s hot muffler had set grass alight. The fire spread quickly and engulfed the whole car in flames.

He said farmers needed to have a plan in place for moving their cattle and equipment- a safe area to move stock to in case of fire.

Mr Pickford said cattle were often an overlooked consideration in people’s fire plans. 

Residents, rural and residential, were advised to have a Bushfire Survival Plan ready to run with. 

The Prepare, Act, Survive tips were an effective way residents could ensure they were in the best possible position if disaster struck.

For further details go to www.rfs.nsw.gov.au and follow the tabs.

Anyone who has information about fires being deliberately lit or who recognises fire hazards should contact Dubbo Police on 6883 1599 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

lisa.minner@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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