Dry winter fuels fire threat in the Lower Hunter

Firefighting crews across the Lower Hunter are bracing for a dangerously busy fire season off the back of a bone-dry winter and recent windy conditions. 

Rural Fire Manager Lower Hunter Zone operations officer Guy Baddock told The Mercury that the lack of rain in recent months has contributed to prime fire conditions across the region. 

“It’s been a lot drier winter than what we normally have, and recent winds have helped further dry out vegetation,” Mr Baddock said. 

“We’re anticipating it will be a relatively busy season, based off current conditions.”  

Mr Baddock said that the Rural Fire Service had prepared well for the upcoming fire season, which officially starts on October 1. 

“(Conditions) are a little worse than usual, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” he said. 

“Our preparation has been good, with a number of hazard reduction operations carried out in recent weeks.”

Mr Baddock said, despite windy conditions, mild temperatures had helped ease the threat of fire across the region this week. 

“We’re still not seeing the temperatures rise, which is good,” he said. 

He warned that residents should have a fire plan in place and undertake preparation work around their homes ahead of the start of the season proper. 

Multiple out of control fires erupted across the Hunter on Tuesday, the same day the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, a federal government agency, launched its seasonal outlook for the bushfire season.

The Pacific Motorway was shut in both directions on Tuesday when a fire near Medowie threatened to jump the road. Earlier that day a blaze at Cameron Park sent a thick haze of smoke across the Newcastle Link Road.

Deliberately lit fires wreaked havoc near Coalfields towns last fire season, with hot and windy conditions fuelling multiple fires including a blaze in December which decimated more than 1200 hectares near Abermain and Neath. 

For more advice on how to prepare for bushfire season, visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au 

This story Dry winter fuels fire threat first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.