Total fire ban in place

A TOTAL fire ban has been declared across the Clarence Valley and local fire crews and SES volunteers are on high alert as the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecasts the mercury to soar above 38 degrees today.

Paul Baker, station commander at Grafton fire station said the extreme temperatures and dry conditions increase the risk of bush fires occurring throughout the region.

To stay safe, he is encouraging locals to be prepared, remain vigilant and abide by all weather and safety warnings issued.

"People living in rural areas are advised to have a bush fire survival plan in place and keep abreast of current weather conditions," he said.

"West-north-west winds from the north of Australia will push dry conditions across the Clarence Valley today.

"If a bush fire occurs, these conditions will speed up the distance the bush fire can travel and that is why we ask people to be cautious and have a survival plan ready."

Mr Baker said fire crews have been placed on alert and will respond immediately in the event of an emergency.

All the vehicles in the Grafton fire brigade fleet are prepared and are ready to go should they be called into action and additional fire fighters have notified Mr Baker of their availability to man the trucks.

"We also make sure we have enough drinking water on board the trucks for our crew," Mr Baker said.

"Hydration is a big issue for us and we always carry drinking water when we respond to a call out."

To protect your property against the threat of a bush fire, Mr Baker recommends clearing your gutters of leaf litter, watering outside areas to keep them as moist as possible and placing a tennis ball in your downpipes before filling them with water.

"If you decide to evacuate your home during a bush fire, make the decision early and don't wait," Mr Baker said.

Mr Baker said the lighting of fires today is strictly prohibited and all fire permits recently granted have been revoked due to current conditions.

"People can still use electric and gas barbecues today, but I recommend they keep a hose nearby to prevent a fire occurring," he added.

Mr Baker confirmed there were no fires burning in the Clarence Valley when he spoke to The Daily Examiner at 10am.

The Daily Examiner will continue to monitor the situation and post updates online throughout the day.

We are also encouraging locals who are out and about today to carry plenty of water to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion.

UPDATE 6PM

The RFS have confirmed they are closely monitoring two bush fires burning in remote areas of bushland at Dalmorton and Glenreagh and a third at Smiths Creek Road.

RFS Clarence Valley District Manager Superintendent Stuart Watts said no townships are currently under threat from the bush fires.

He is urging property owners in the affected areas to remain on guard, evacuate early if necessary and put their bush fire survival plans into action.

With temperatures across the Clarence Valley forecast to top 40 degrees, fire crews will remain on alert and a total fire ban authorised today remains in action.

The Daily Examiner will continue to follow up on the bush fires in the area. More information will be available in our print edition tomorrow.

If you would like to check out the location of the bush fires and search for helpful advice and information to help protect your property, please visit rfs.nsw.gov.au.

UPDATE, 09/01/3013. 10AM

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has issued a severe bush fire danger rating for the North Coast region today and the Rural Fire Service (RFS) is preparing for bush fire conditions to worsen in the Clarence Valley.

The temperature is forecast to reach 42 degrees and the RFS are continuing to monitor bush fires throughout the Clarence Valley.

No communities are under threat from bush fires at this stage. RFS Clarence Valley District Manager Superintendent Stuart Watts said bush fires burning in remote areas are continuing to be monitored.

All national parks across the region are open to visitors today, however National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) spokesman Lawrence Orel is strongly encouraging people who are heading outdoors to be careful of fires.

"Despite all of our parks being open, the very hot weather across the region continues today and we ask that everyone takes extra precautions against the heat," he said.

"We are reminding people to be cautious of fires. They are a big risk in the heat and that was reflected in the total fire ban which was issued yesterday.

"We ask that people take plenty of water with them, to stay hydrated and look after one another, especially kids."

Mr Orel said there are currently no fires burning in any nation parks across the Clarence Valley.

"We have been lucky so far, but our fire crews remain on high alert," he said.

"We are facing a number of consecutive days of hot weather. But realistically it is summer, these heatwave conditions do occur and we ask everyone to take care to reduce the risk of accidents or fires from occurring."

Mr Orel is encouraging anyone who spots smoke in a national park to dial 000 immediately.



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