Busy bushfire season at an end

THE bushfire danger period is over for now but firefighters may only have a short reprieve before it heats up again.

From July 1 last year to the end of the official danger period yesterday, the Rural Fire Service attended 521 incidents.

Just over 300 of those call-outs were to bush, grass or scrub fires, with the remainder being motor vehicle accidents and structural-related incidents.

New South Wales RFS Clarence Valley district manager Superintendent Stuart Watts said the season was typical of previous years, where the bushfire danger period started early because of drought.

If history repeats itself this year, it may only be six months before the next bushfire danger period starts.

"Late July, early August last year proved to be a particularly bad time for us, with a number of fires burning and the declaration of a bushfire emergency, during which time property loss was experienced," he said.

"Thankfully there were no serious injuries to any volunteer firefighter during that period."

Drought conditions persisted through to November and Supt Watts said by the time storms started to roll through the area the volunteers were very happy to see the rainfall.

No other fires were as damaging as the August blazes at Wells Crossing and Kremnos, with volunteers across the region attending just nine structural/ house fires from July.

"We've been lucky the last few years, we attended a number of property fires that were contained fairly quickly thanks to an admirable job by landholders and brigades in preventing greater loss," Supt Watts said.

One concerning statistic was the number of motor vehicle incidents attended in the same period - 30 in total.

"It seems to be an indication of how busy our roads are," he said.

"We've seen a lot of accidents occur on days of high traffic and in wet conditions on more remote roads. We're hoping that problem will be overcome in time."

Despite the revocation of the bushfire danger period, Supt Watts said there were still rules people needed to follow if they chose to initiate a burn-off on their property.

Twenty-four hours before lighting a fire, property owners must give notification to surrounding landholders and the local NSW RFS Fire Control Centre, as well as take action to maintain and control the fire.

These conditions are applicable all year round.

For more information, head to http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

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