Fire season here

By DAVID MOASE

FIRE fighters could be in for a long, hot and difficult summer, according to Coffs Harbour Rural Fire Service team manager Superintendent Warwick Roche.

The combination of the extended drought and warm weather conditions have Mr Roche and the 37 brigades under his command fearing the worst.

"The bush is very dry and I am continually getting reports of how little moisture there is in the ground," Supt Roche said.

"We are still issuing fire pemits at this stage but we are keeping a careful eye on the conditions."

The Coffs Harbour brigades this week deployed 27 fire fighters to battle a bushfire near New Italy, south of Woodburn, that has burned an area of 820 hectares.

Weather forecasts indicate they will face tough conditions today and tomorrow and they are scheduled to stay at the fire front for three days.

Supt Roche is expecting a difficult time for fire fighters before the end of summer.

"It is a big worry given the lack of rainfall, volatility and drought conditions," he said.

"When conditions are like this fire behaviour becomes very erratic and difficult to predict.

"While there is no total fire ban in this area, people lighting fires need to be extremely careful and remember to totally extinguish their fires when they are finished."

Supt Roche said the dry winter had stopped crews burning off as much as they would have liked.

Forests NSW will provide an observer to the first aerial surveillance of bushfires today.

"These flights will be a regular part of the bushfire program this season," said regional manager Steve Rayson.

"They are triggered by fire activity, low visibility, thunderstorms or high fire danger.

"We have had our main fire observation towers at Gibberagee, Tooloom, Pikapene and Browns Nob near Halfway Creek manned for some weeks."

When conditions demand, other towers at Mt Seaview near Pine Creek and Mr Coramba are also manned.

nPeople wanting to burn green waste around their home or property need to obtain a permit from their local NSW Fire Brigades or Rural Fire Service station.



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