Maclean cuts bushfire risk

FOLLOWING the tragic bushfires in Victoria this year, Maclean resident Des Smith decided enough was enough.

He wanted the appropriate authorities to address his and other residents' concerns about a build up of fuel in the bush around the hilly suburbs of Maclean.

Mr Smith's house is on an average town-sized block on the hill.

There are no trees on his land, but surrounding his and other homes around Ayr and Wharf streets are large blocks of vegetated land belonging to private and public landholders.

Mr Smith said residents were concerned the fuel loads on the bush blocks were increasing year by year.

“I'm concerned about the risk to my house and also the risk to the elderly people in the neighbourhood,” he said.

“Historically, landowners have cleared fire fuel where legislation and topography allowed physical clearing to occur.

“However, it is apparent that fuel reduction burning will be necessary to effectively reduce the fire risks to acceptable levels.”

In February, Mr Smith approached council for advice on how to get the fuel loads reduced.

After more than six months of writing letters and making phone calls to council, Mr Smith finally received a response last week.

Part of the advice offered by council was to speak to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).

Mr Smith and neighbours had a meeting with Stuart Watts, RFS acting district manager, on Tuesday with some good results.

Mr Watts said the owners of the bulk of the vegetated land in question signed a hazard reduction form allowing the RFS to create a fire management plan for the area.

The plan will include manual land clearing of a few hundred metres along the boundaries, followed by hazard reduction burns probably next year.

In the meantime, Mr Watts said the RFS believed residents in the area were safe.

“We've had a look around there and we've found no major issues,” Mr Watts said.

“There could be a problem there but at this stage it's not a direct threat to any individual properties.”

Mr Smith is pleased things are finally starting to happen.

“But we still have to get through summer,” he said.

For information on reducing fuel loads in your neighbourhood, contact the RFS on 6644 5135.

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