The stars have aligned allowing the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Rural Fire Service to commence hazard reduction burn offs at Crescent Head.
Ideal wind direction, moisture levels, temperature conditions, and the absence of any koalas, as well as the prior notification of residents meant the 12 hectare burn of Goolawah National Park could go ahead.
The burn is the second of three stages, and part of a broader plan to protect the residents of Crescent Head and reduce the risk of wildfire damaging properties in the area.
The first stage, which was conducted three to four years ago, involved burning a strip of land closer to the at-risk houses than today’s burn.
Plans are in place for stage three, a burn of the area from the water tank at the top of Skyline Cr down the southern side of the headland.
Acting Macleay area manager of National Parks and Wildlife Alexandra Wyatt said the second stage took so long to occur because the authorities were waiting for the dots to line up.
“This is prime koala habitat, they are threatened and we are legally obligated to protect them,” Ms Wyatt said.
“We surveyed this morning to make sure no koalas were in the area.
“Weather is a big issue, we can’t do it on a roaring southerly.
“Temperature and moisture levels are another factor.
“The fuel has to be dry enough to burn, but not so dry that the trees get scorched.
“It is too dry closer to summer, and that increases the chance of the fire spotting over and racing towards the houses.”
Ms Wyatt said the burn offs are done in stages to get a mosaic pattern of fuel reduction.
“The aim is to reduce available bushfire fuel by 75 per cent, so that if a fire came through it would slow down and decrease risk.
“100 per cent would be a scorching hot wildfire.”
After spending the last few days searching in vain for the notorious dugong at Stuarts Point, National Parks and Wildlife Service divisional commander James Baldwin said it had been a successful burn.
“We’ve met our prescriptions and been able to reduce the layers of fuel, balance the management of threatened species and risk, as well as manage the smoke,” Comm Baldwin said.
“It has died down well.
“A few trees are scorched, but nothing too radical.”
Comm Baldwin said the thick plume of smoke that could be seen from kilometres away was a result of the paperbacks burning.
“Paperbacks are designed to burn, fire runs straight up them.
“It looks like the end of the world, but it’s not, it’s just the paperbacks doing their thing.”
Comm Baldwin added that any koalas not spotted during the morning’s survey, would more than likely be sitting safely high up in eucalyptus trees rather than in the hazardous paperbacks.
National Parks and Wildlife would like to thank their work experience interns who were out in the bush braving the cold at 4am this morning looking for koalas.