THERE are currently five fires burning in the Upper Hunter Shire Council area with fire services thankful for the predicted weather this week to allow them to continue to contain and control the fires.
Local crews were able to have a short break during Christmas and Boxing Day with the arrival of six Canadians on December 18 who will be here until January 23 and six members of the Australian army who have provided support for air operations, planning and logistics such as stores and transport.
After Christmas there were 40 to 50 new ignitions of fire across the Liverpool Plains fire district, encompassing Tamworth, Gwydir, Liverpool Pains and Upper Hunter Shire Council areas and now there are three fires controlled, five contained and four on patrol status.
The prospect of thunderstorms can be a fixed blessing for fighting fires, with dry lightening strikes causing more fires, but the chance of decent rain quelling the fires.
Corey Phillips, from Liverpool Plains Fire Control Centre said the weather conditions for the predicted thunderstorms this week are cause for relief.
“It does make me smile as there is a lot of moisture in the air, not like the dry thunderstorms we have been having, which were quick cells that form and cause issues with lightening in low humidity and high temperature conditions, whereas this week the conditions are very mild and while we will have a high fire danger, hopefully we will have more widespread rainfalls from the storms, some predictions over the next four days are for 20 to 40 mils of rain,” said Mr Phillips.
“It may be enough to move from the Section 44 status, which is when we are deemed to need more than just local resourcing and we coordinate with all agencies within the area,” he said.
“We still have a long way to go through summer though, through until March and there is still the risk of above average hot days, but the season seems to be changing with more moisture and hopefully if there are other fires they won’t be as fast to escalate, but February can be hot and we need more rain for the fires and drought conditions and while we’re seeing monsoonal conditions forming the dangerous conditions have moved south and that is what we are now seeing in Victoria,” he said.
Thankfully there has been no loss of property or life in the Upper Hunter area which Corey Phillips credits to good management by the fire services and local residents.
“Across the board landholders here are used to preparing for fires, so rural areas are a bit different to what we are seeing in more populated areas and we have not lost any property or major assets with is both luck and good management,” said Mr Phillips.
“We have had challenges with properties under threat, but people have heeded the warnings and were well prepared, often 90 percent of the local landholders are also members of the RFS, so they are well prepared,” Corey Phillips said.
Carter’s Road Fire:
- In the Barrington Tops began on December 1 and has burnt through 5,600 hectares to date.
- Crews are working towards containment.
- Remote Access Fire Teams are deploying for the next few days. A team of 10 people working in pairs will be dropped by helicopter into remote locations to do close containment work using chainsaws and dry fire fighting techniques and coordinating aircraft water operations to extinguish hot points on the edge of the fire front. Today vegetation is being removed to create a helipad and fire fighting equipment to be used by the team is being flown in.
- Showers of 5 to 20ml across the ground have helped quell the fire.
Cox’s Creek Fire:
- North-east of Tomalla is contained.
- The fire began on Saturday following lightening strikes and is on the southern side of the forest.
- Currently the fire has impacted 10 hectares within the state forest.
- Crews are continuing to work to contain the fire, focusing on hot spots on the edge of the fire.
Hunter Road Fire:
- Near Moonan Flat is contained.
- The fire was also started by a lightening strike on Saturday.
- The fire has spread over one hectare and is on private land.
Meads Creek Fire:
- In the Goulburn River National Park is under control.
- There are a few hot spots on the south western edge in the Mudgee Shire area.
- The fire has burnt through 14, 200 hectares to date.
Scott’s Creek Road Fire:
- The fire is in rugged terrain north of Scott’s Creek and is being controlled.
- It began on Thursday following a lightening strike and has impacted 560 hectares.
- It is on private property, but there has been no threat to homes in the area.