While our area has survived unscathed so far from what is already regarded as the worst fire season on record, our local Rural Fire chief says the worst thing we can do is become complacent.
Greg Wardle, District Manager Illawarra of the Rural Fire Service, says the local areas of most concern are Carrington Falls, Jamberoo and parts of Foxground.
“Up at Carrington Falls [part of the Kiama LGA] the rivers and creeks have stopped running, which is a sign of how dry the conditions have become over the last few months.
“Carrington Falls has already had some minor fires, and we’ve undertaken large areas of hazard reduction over the last few years to try and reduce some of the fuel load in the area.”
The last big fires in our area were decades ago, adding to the danger.
“We have been preparing for this season for months,” says Superintendent Wardle.
“Our brigades are well prepared, having gone through our procedures, tested our equipment, and undertaken drills to prepare for this.
“We’ve also assisted landowners with reducing fire hazards on their properties within the Jamberoo and Foxground areas.”
He’s concerned that because the grass looks green it will cause some complacency.
“Anywhere bushland interfaces with a residential area in this drier than normal year has potential to be under threat.
“If you haven’t already, prepare your property for the event of a bushfire now.
“If you haven’t got a bushfire survival plan, download it from the RFS website.
“As a family, make a decision about what you will do in the event of a fire – whether you’ll go or stay, and where you are going to go so that everyone is clear on where to meet each other.”
While all of the RFS appliances are still stationed here, some of the crews from Jamberoo and Gerringong have been helping out in northern NSW, in the Glenn Innes/Tenterfield area.
As a property owner on Saddleback with a 10 hectare area of forest, Travice Pryor has seen the local forests dry out over a period of forty years.
“When I came to Kiama in 1969 no one would have been concerned about the likelihood of Kiama’s rainforests being threatened by fire.
“Fifty years later it is not a matter of if they will burn but when. Rainforests will burn is one lesson that this year’s fires have taught us.
“The last fire on the escarpment was in 1968 and the potential for a major fire is clear.
“With a SW wind I am concerned the Kiama urban area could come under ember attack.”
He believes land clearance laws are at fault, with farmers not having been able to remove wattles and other pyrogenic vegetation.
“The ten fifty rule which allows trees to be removed up to ten metres of a house, and shrubs to be removed up to fifty metres is meaningless as a fire reduction policy,” he says.
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