Macarthur residents urged to prepare early for fire season

ON ALERT: A firefighter works to contain flames close to homes in Wattle Grove earlier this year. Picture: AAP
ON ALERT: A firefighter works to contain flames close to homes in Wattle Grove earlier this year. Picture: AAP

The message is clear – it’s time to prepare now for the threat of fire.

Macarthur firefighters have warned residents they need to safeguard their homes ahead of a dry and hot summer.

This year’s bush fire danger period started earlier than usual on September 1, rather than October 1.

Macarthur Rural Fire Service district services coordinator Nick Medianik said bushfire could pose a threat to all properties.

"There is a misunderstanding that only homes that back on to bush are under threat,” he said.

“Any property with vegetation nearby is at risk and it’s crucial that all residents have a bushfire survival plan.

“People need to identify the fire risks around their property because our firefighters aren’t able to go around and clean out everybody’s yards.

“Our preparation needs a whole community approach.”

Mr Medianik said the RFS’ fire season preparation had been “hampered” by several factors including poor weather conditions and a spate of fires across Macarthur.

These blazes included a fire near Holsworthy army base which burned through more than 2700 hectares of vegetation in late July.

Smoke blanketed parts of Macarthur due to a major fire near Holsworthy army base in late July. Picture: NSW RFS

Smoke blanketed parts of Macarthur due to a major fire near Holsworthy army base in late July. Picture: NSW RFS

“June and July are traditionally our hazard reduction burn times but conditions have just been too dry and windy this year,” Mr Medianik said. 

“It’s been the driest start to our fire season since 1986 and the forecast is for a drier than average spring.

“However, we hope the little bit of rain in the past week will provide us with a window of opportunity for hazard reduction burns.”

Wollondilly firefighters also urge residents to prepare now for the threat of bushfire.

RFS Southern Highlands district manager, Superintendent Martin Surrey said fire could cause trouble “at any time”.

“It’s extremely important all-year round to be prepared for bushfire, especially when conditions are exacerbated by heat and wind,” he said.

Superintendent Surrey said the RFS had conducted several recent hazard reduction burns across the shire.

“We’ve done a lot of burns in the east towards Appin but also west into Buxton and Oakdale and down into Wingecarribee,” he said.

“We have plans to do more, but everything has to come together well for hazard reductions to be done safely.

"You need the right conditions for it be a nice and cleansing burn to help slow down the threat of fire."

Superintendent Surrey reminded all residents that, until the bushfire danger period ends on March 31, fire permits were required before they could light a blaze.

"People need to think when doing pile burns on their property,” he said.

“They need to look at what's around them, make sure they're safe and be guided by their fire permits."

Residents can obtain a fire permit by contacting the RFS Macarthur office on 9608 7777 or the RFS Southern Highlands Picton office on 4677 7000.