Unseasonal dry spell expected to extend fire season
FOR the third time in the past 20 years the local fire season is likely to be extended to the end of March in response to an unseasonal dry spell.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) regional manager Stuart Watts said a spell of dry weather had caused growth to "hay off", creating increased fire hazards.
"We had a spate of fires during the early part of the season through late August to October then there was a quite a long period where we had plenty of rain," he said.
"The weather has got dry again since the beginning of February, which is quite unusual for here, as it's normally the start of our wet period."
Mr Watts said the local RFS often applied for an early end to the fire season because of that weather pattern, but it was not the case this year.
"After the quiet period from November to February we've had a few fires recently," he said.
"The one at Wooli was the one that attracted the most attention, but we also had a fire out on the Old Glen Innes Rd that burnt out around 800ha and took quite a bit of resources and heavy equipment to control."
Mr Watts said he was not sure what effect climate change is having on the area.
"We know the science predicts longer, more intense fire seasons," he said. "And to some extent we have seen that in recent years
"This year after the early start we then had a wet period and now it's dry again at a time we usually have rain.
"Longer term we will have to develop strategies, as will property owners, to cope with the changing conditions."
Mr Watt said once the fire season was over the local RFS brigade would have small window for hazard reduction burns.
"The 2016-17 season is just around the corner," he said.