Smoke rises from a previous hazard reduction burn in the hills behind Upper Orara.
Smoke rises from a previous hazard reduction burn in the hills behind Upper Orara. Rob Wright

Rain puts RFS way behind in coastal hazard reduction burns

WHILE recent rain along the east coast of NSW has put a smile on farmers' dials, the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has issued a warning there could be a price to pay in later months.

The RFS has confirmed the schedule of planned hazard reduction burns is falling behind.

Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said April rainfall for NSW was 47 per cent above average making it the wettest April since 1990.

This was preceded by consistent rain over the summer months and followed by high levels of rainfall across north eastern NSW since early May.

"Recent levels have left the landscape too wet to effectively burn resulting in a number of proposed hazard reductions being postponed," Deputy Commissioner Rogers said.

"Traditionally 53 per cent of hazard reduction, in terms of the number of hectares burnt, occurs between March and May.

"We are behind where we need to be at this time of year and following a wet summer, the 2015 hazard reduction target will not be met."

On the weekend a burn was planned for Yarravel Nature Reserve north west of Kempsey for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service with areas from Uralla to Tamworth behind the Dorrigo Plateau under review for burns this week.

"The recent rain will result in increased growth of grass and other vegetation," Deputy Commissioner Rogers added.

"If the forecast conditions eventuate in late winter, all it will take is a few weeks of warm, dry weather and we will again be contending with dry landscapes."

He said hazard reduction was a high priority and the NSW RFS would monitor weather forecasts and schedule work to be carried out as soon as possible.

"Hazard reduction burning is important as it can help to reduce the intensity of bush fires and better protect lives and properties.

"While burning can be effective in protecting homes during a bush fire it is not the silver bullet.

"A well prepared property and a bush fire survival plan is the best defence against a fire.

"I encourage everyone to take the time to prepare their property now, which means clearing gutters, maintaining gardens and checking equipment such as hoses, pumps and generators."



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