The Shark Creek fire, which went on to threaten the townships of Angourie and Wooloweyah on the North Coast, began in early September. Photo Frank Redward
The Shark Creek fire, which went on to threaten the townships of Angourie and Wooloweyah on the North Coast, began in early September. Photo Frank Redward

IT’S OFFICIAL: Bushfire season back again

WHILE events of last summer still linger in the collective memory of the North Coast, the bushfire season has come around again already.

Beginning tomorrow, the Bush Fire Danger Period heralds the start of the traditional bushfire season and if the events of last year taught us anything – it’s that being prepared early is critical.

One of the first major fires on the North Coast last year began at Shark Creek in early September and in a matter of days had the townships of Angourie and Wooloweyah holding their collective breath.

By the end of November hundreds of thousands of hectares of bushland and hundreds of buildings had been destroyed as the fires raged from Nana Glen to Nymboida.

The Rural Fire Service has now reminded residents in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen Local Government Areas that with the commencement of the danger period comes heightened controls over burning.

In November, fires were raging across the North Coast and property damage was sustained around Nana Glen. Photo Frank Redward
In November, fires were raging across the North Coast and property damage was sustained around Nana Glen. Photo Frank Redward

Anyone wishing to light a fire during the Bush Fire Danger Period must obtain a fire permit from their local brigade or Fire Control Centre.

Superintendent Sean McArdle said with the warmer and drier conditions becoming more conducive to the spread of fire, people need to be extremely careful.

“Permits ensure that fire is used safely, reducing the danger to landholders, their property and the community,” Supt McArdle said.

“While hazard reductions are an important part of preparations, landholders need to be extremely careful as warmer conditions mean fire can spread quickly and suddenly.

“Never leave a fire unattended and, if a fire does escape, make sure you call Triple Zero (000) immediately so that emergency services can respond and minimise the damage.”

Supt. McArdle also urged residents to prepare for the upcoming fire season by preparing property and ensuring you have a Bushfire Survival Plan.

“Firefighters have been busy undertaking hazard reductions in the lead up to the bush fire season and it is equally as important that residents play their part by preparing their property, which includes removing flammable materials from yards, clearing leaves from gutters and checking hose lengths,” he said.

“It is also important to make or update your Bush Fire Survival Plan and have a conversation with your family to ensure everyone knows what they will do and where they will go in the event they are threatened by a bush fire.”

That statutory Bush Fire Danger Period usually begins in October, though it has been brought forward by the RFS on the North Coast.

In November fire fighters battled the Liberation Trail bush fire that reached emergency level at Nana Glen, as strong winds pushed it towards the town. Photo Frank Redward.
In November fire fighters battled the Liberation Trail bush fire that reached emergency level at Nana Glen, as strong winds pushed it towards the town. Photo Frank Redward.

Eager to prevent a repeat of the devastation seen last year, Premier Gladys Berejiklian commissioned an inquiry into the bushfires and has indicated the NSW Government will enact every single one of its recommendations.

That included a number of recommendations on enhancing the capacity of indigenous people to continue land management practices, including cultural burning.

The issue was flagged as one of the most discussed during the months of inquiries which took place across the state, with strong community support for a return to the practices which had been used for thousands of years before European settlement in Australia.

The inquiry heard that cultural burns were credited with saving a number of properties across the state including in Tabulam.

To check the Fire Danger Ratings for your area or to download a Bush Fire Survival Plan, go to www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or contact your Coffs Harbour Fire Control Centre.



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