Firies are ready for hot time

By CRAIG McTEAR

OUR firefighters are bracing themselves for a hot, harsh summer.

With dry conditions setting in throughout the Mid North Coast, Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews are preparing for trouble.

"We're expecting a potentially bad season," RFS community safety officer, Inspector Ron Collingridge, said.

"It doesn't look good at this stage.

"However, if we get rain, it could knock it back."

The region had received plenty of rain in recent months, but this had also helped vegetation growth, Mr Collingridge said.

"The potential for severe grassfires is there as things dry out from hot, dry north-westerly winds. They raise the temperature and lower the humidity."

Mr Collingridge said the forecast for this week throughout the North Coast and the wider northern NSW region was for a high fire danger.

The RFS northern region, which stretches from the Queensland border to Kempsey and west to Coonabarabran, is ablaze with 12 major fires at the moment.

Mid North Coast RFS manager, Warwick Roche, is currently in the Tenterfield area, where he is the deputy incident controller at a large bushfire.

Thankfully, there are no blazes on the Coffs Coast tying up our troops, and our local RFS has not yet had any requests for help at the fires raging in the Port Stephens and Sydney areas.

During the bushfire danger period, which has been in force on the Mid North Coast for the past eight weeks, you can not light a fire in the open without a permit.

Fines of up to $5500 and prison sentences can apply if a permit is not obtained, or the conditions on the permit are not followed. For more information, contact the RFS headquarters on 6651 6133.

n In other news, the State Government has re-established a police strike force to investigate arson attacks.

"The NSW Government is committed to cracking down on the irresponsible and callous acts of firebugs, which place the lives of families and our dedicated firefighters at risk," Premier Morris Iemma said.

People found guilty of intentionally causing a fire, or who are reckless in spreading one, can face hefty jail terms.



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