FIRE WARRIORS: No rest for Orana team

THE ORANA team of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) cannot rest despite fighting on average three fires a day since mid-December, a couple of them considered lit by arsonists in Dubbo.

Saturday's forecast maximum temperature at Dubbo of 44 degrees Celsius has the full attention of the team that includes 900 volunteers, currently on standby.

Many have donned their bright yellow fire-fighting gear in the past few weeks at a moment's notice and without hesitation.

Orana RFS team manager, Superintendent Lyndon Wieland, has reported of up to 40 deployed every day in the past several weeks to stop big and small fires.

Yesterday morning, he said, fences had been among the casualties of the current battle against fire that's had heat and dry vegetation on its side.

The team has stood in the way of tragedy and heartache, albeit getting its toes singed at times.

Superintendent Wieland said there had not been property or livestock lost in the battle but noted some close calls.

"A fire at the Nanima Village near Wellington got right up to the houses, causing some heat damage," he said.

"If it had got away it could have impacted on a residential sub-division on Falls Road in Wellington."

Superintendent Wieland said the team also had its work cut out when power lines "arced out" at Stuart Town village on Christmas Eve.

The causes of the other fires attended by the team have been varied.

An angle grinder being used in a paddock and a car running by the side of the road have set off alarms, as have suspected arsonists.

"We believe some of the fires are suspicious," Superintendent Wieland said.

"We had a couple in the Dubbo area last week.

"We are working with the police in investigating the fires."

The team manager warned that people found responsible for lighting fires could face up to five years in jail.

A total fire ban was still in place in NSW yesterday when Dubbo enjoyed a small reprieve from the heatwave that began in the lead-up to Christmas.

At 3pm the city's thermometer was sitting at 31 degrees Celsius after reaching 39.4 on Tuesday and 37.9 on Monday.

Sunday, January 6, has been the only day this month to reach or exceed 40 degrees, but the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting intense heat in the coming days.

Its seven-day forecast for Dubbo published yesterday predicted 42 degrees tomorrow (Friday), followed by a record 44 on Saturday, 40 on Sunday and 40 on Tuesday.

The Orana RFS region, taking in Dubbo, Wellington and Narromine, received a fire rating of very high yesterday.

On Tuesday its rating was severe except for an area south of Wellington, deemed catastrophic.

The region remains braced for the possibility of devastating fires.

The region remains braced for the possibility of devastating fires.


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