The visible smoke in Sydney last Monday signalled the early arrival of bushfire season. The NSW Rural Fire Service today confirmed Bushfire Danger Period will begin one month early, on September 1, in nine areas.
“The whole bushfire period hasn’t been brought forward, only in certain areas, around the Blue Mountains,” a RFS spokesperson tells Broadsheet. The areas are Warrumbungle, Gilgandra, Mid-Western Regional Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Mid-Coast, Bathurst, Oberon, Lithgow and the Blue Mountains.
Six areas started on August 1 and the remaining 95 local areas will enter fire season on October 1, according to the regular schedule. Anyone wishing to light a fire during the BFDP must obtain a permit from their local fire control centre.
New data combining Bureau of Meteorology intelligence with NASA satellite images has found a lethal combination: record-setting July warmth and low rainfall creating conditions similar to 2013, when bushfires seared across NSW and Victoria.
“Last week we saw a hint of the conditions the upcoming season may bring, with firefighters responding to 616 bush/grass fires, including three Watch and Act fires that threatened homes in Kempsey, Port Macquarie and Port Stephens,” RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said in an official statement.
It’s important to stay up-to-date with any warnings from RFS if you’re heading to the Blue Mountains. “Landholders need to be extremely careful as warmer conditions mean fire can spread quickly and suddenly,” says Fitzsimmons.
Hazard reduction burning took place again today, with smoke visible in western and southern suburbs of Sydney. The next one is scheduled for August 25 in Penrith, Tamworth and Port Macquarie-Hastings. The timing depends on a number of factors including temperature, humidity, moisture and the content of vegetation.
During burn periods, when smoke levels are high, those suffering from asthma or from lung conditions are advised to reduce outdoor activities and to seek medical advice.