Bob Harbourd, deputy captain of Coutts Crossing Rural Fire Service, surveys a fire on Armidale Rd.
Bob Harbourd, deputy captain of Coutts Crossing Rural Fire Service, surveys a fire on Armidale Rd. Lachlan Thompson

Smoke signals time for permits

WARMER temperatures, a blanket of thick smoke and dry conditions have signalled the start of spring in the Clarence Valley.

It also heralds the official beginning of bushfire season and Rural Fire Service Clarence district manager Superintendent Stuart Watts warning property owners to take extra care.

He said anyone thinking about burning off from midnight September 1 would need to obtain a written permit and ensure they follow all requirements or risk facing the consequences.

Mr Watts said written fire permits could be obtained from any Clarence Valley RFS station or the NSW RFS District Office in Ulmarra.

"After this point in time all the conditions on the permit must be adhered to. If the fire escapes a property or the property owner has not followed the conditions on the permit, they may be fined or prosecuted," Mr Watts said.

He also warned landholders not to engage in a "free for all" attitude prior to the start of the permit season and manage any burns with all care.

Meanwhile, several bushfires have been keeping rural fire brigades busy over the past week, with the only fire of concern being in the southern end of the Clarence Valley around the Dirty Creek range at Halfway Creek.

"At times we've had smoke over the Pacific Highway," Mr Watts said, adding the other fires were being attended to.

"A lot of these fires appear to be escape burns or cause unknown at this time and the RFS has deployed two fire investigation officers to investigate the cause and origin of these fires."

BUSHFIRE ACTION PLAN

 Always maintain an asset-protection zone around your property by mowing your grass regularly, removing excess ground fuels and combustible material, clearing leaves, twigs, bark and other debris from the roof and gutters, and trimming low-lying branches two metres from the ground surrounding your home.

 Make your bushfire survival plan before it's too late.

 As soon as you see a bushfire approaching your home, call 000.

 Ask yourself these questions:

 Do you live within a few streets of the bush?

 Does your area have a history of bushfires?

 Do you have many trees or shrubs around your home?

 If you need to leave your home, would you need to travel through bushland?

 Is your bushfire survival plan more than one year old?

 If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need a bushfire survival plan. Planning to make a plan is not a plan.

 Visit the RFS website for more info http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au



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