Bega RFS “Ready for action” as total fire ban declared

The NSW Rural Fire Service has issued a total ban for the lighting of fires for Friday, January 17 for the Monaro Alpine, Far South Coast, Southern Slopes and Southern Ranges Total Fire Ban Districts and Bega RFS says its ready for action.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts a hot day with patchy morning fog, a mostly sunny afternoon, with northerly 20 to 30 km/h winds increasing to 25 to 40 km/h in the middle of the day then turning northeasterly 30 to 45 km/h in the evening. 

Daytime maximum temperatures are expected to be between 31 to 39.

Bega RFS far South Coast team manager John Cullen said although there is a continuing trend of warm weather until late February, this year’s fire season has seen only a few minor incidents in the Bega Valley region.

“We are right in the middle of the fire season so we are ready for action,” Mr Cullen said.

“The grass is beginning to dry out and we’ve had a lot of growth this year especially on top of the mountain and escarpment…last night we were made aware of dry lightening with approaching storms which can start fires.

“Things are going OK at the moment, but if we see another week of extreme heats, things will really start to dry out.”

Mr Cullen urged property owners to make sure they have an emergency escape plan and to continue to clean up leaf litter.

“It’s also important to make sure your water supplies and pumps are working,” he said.

“Stay informed with what the weather conditions are and prepare for them.

“We also ask people not to indulge in high risk activities such as slashing and the use of grinders in the high heat of the day as it can start grass fires.”

Mr Cullen said you can usually associate the drought periods with bushfires.

The Bega Valley district suffered horrendous fires in 1952 which spread from the mountains to the sea, over the drought periods other major fires occurred in 1968, in the 80’s, 1994 and 2012.

The total average rainfall for Bega Valley this month currently sits at 181.6 millimetres, just 10 millimetres less than the wettest total received between 1995 and 2013.

A Bega Valley Shire Council State of the Environment Report done for 2011 and 2012 showed this period was dominated by a wet period with the largest rainfall on record occurring in March 2012 with a reading of 324 millimetres.

The long drought was broken in 2009 with increasingly wetter years than the long term trend occurring in the following three years and two floods occurred in the 2010 and 2011 period and another in 2012 which required the manual opening of Wallagoot Lake after 15 years of being closed to the ocean.

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