Summer well and truly here and with it fire danger

The hot days and drying winds of summer are well and truly here, bringing with them the danger of wild fire.

Forestry Corporation Hume region timber merchandising manager Gavin Jeffries said it was the sort of weather expected in January leading to the declaration of seasonal Solid Fuel and Total Fire Bans (TOBANS).

“The hot dry weather will bring about a more complete curing of the grass fuels through out the south west slopes region and one stray spark or match can start a fire,” he said.

“Forestry Corporation staff are on full alert for a rapid aggressive attack on any wildfire that may start.”

Mr Jeffries said the weather affected how many people in the forest industry operate.

“Harvesting, haulage and site preparation works all come under fire restrictions depending on the fire danger rating each day,” he said.

“Early finishes to the work day means earlier starts to get the work done before it's too hot.

“The fire danger rating is calculated progressively throughout the day by our fire tower operators and if it increases to certain levels the industry is advised.

“Restrictions apply depending on the fire danger level. The industry needs to comply with standards.”

Mr Jeffries said Forestry Corporation rangers have seen a few campfires being lit by the public when Solid Fuel Fire Bans are in force.

“People should be aware that camp fires cannot be lit on State forests during the summer months when there is a Solid Fuel Fire Ban in force.

“Campers should bring food ready prepared in case a TOBAN is declared and on days of Solid Fuel Fire Bans they should use gas cooking appliances,” he said.

“One of the recent fires burning west of the Grampians in Victoria may have started from a stray campfire. So we're appealing to the public not to have any fires.

“Just in the past few days, we've all seen the devastation and tragedy in South Australia and western Victoria. We already know what that means for us in our region, and we certainly don't want to head down that track.

“Think twice about starting fires, or doing jobs that might start a fire - harvesting crops in dry paddocks, or welding for example.

“Forestry Corporation has very extensive fire detection and fire fighting resources on hand, but the best way to fight fires is not to start them at all. Please be careful.”

Forestry Corporation has been running a fire alertness campaign on a Wagga Wagga radio station again this year in an effort to further focus people’s thoughts on fire prevention as they head into the forests during the summer.

“It has proved a very successful of way of appealing to the public to think about fire and the consequences of not doing the right thing,” Mr Jeffries said.

Media contact: Gavin Jeffries on (02) 6947 3911 or 0427 220 971.

Photo of Gavin Jeffries being interviewed on radio in relation to fire available by contacting (02) 6036 2110.