A Rural Fire Service volunteer watches over burning bushland. A number of escaped fires have rural firefighters hot under the collar.
A Rural Fire Service volunteer watches over burning bushland. A number of escaped fires have rural firefighters hot under the collar. JoJo Newby

Fires to spark RFS action

NUMEROUS landowners are being investigated after a series of fires on the Northern Rivers.

Yesterday, the NSW Rural Fire Service battled major fires in Rappville, south of Casino, and Upper Cherry Tree south-west of Casino.

The fires started as hazard-reduction burns last week but got out of control.

"Landowners see smoke in the air and think it's time to light up," Superintendent Michael Brett said.

"Traditionally, they wander around with a box of matches and think the fire will be all right when it gets cold later that night.

"The fires are going down but they're not going out."

From Friday until Monday, the RFS attended 31 Northern Rivers fires, most of which started as hazard- reduction burns.

"We have had a significant increase in the number of escaped burns," Mr Brett said.

"A number of these are under investigation and we'll be considering prosecuting.

"You'll start seeing property owners receiving fines and court attendance notices.

"We have to do something to get the word out there that you can't just light a fire and think it's going to be okay."

Mr Brett said recent weather also assisted fires in getting out of control.

"At the moment, the big problem is that it's so dry," he said.

"We've had no rain for a number of weeks and there's been a lot of frost around, which kills the grass and dries it out.

"We're seeing fire behaviour that we'd usually see later in the year."

On Saturday, the bushfire danger period officially begins on the Far North Coast and landowners will require permits to burn from that time.

Mr Brett said the permits were not intended to stop landowners from burning off but to ensure they do it safely.

For information on permits or how to prepare for fire season, call the RFS on 1800 679 737.

 

FIRE SAFETY

  • Clean out gutters.
  • Keep grass short.
  • Remove vegetation from confined spaces.
  • Call Rural Fire Service on 1800 679 737 before burning off.

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