The bushfire danger period for the Kempsey Local Government Area begins at midnight tonight (August 31), with the NSW RFS urging residents to prepare.
It's hard to believe we are entering the bushfire danger period once again, while the devastating destruction from last summer's bushfires still scar the local landscape.
Drier than average conditions in 2019 prompted the RFS to bring forward the start date of last year's bushfire season, while recent rainfall this year has allowed some reprieve.
"Kempsey experienced the driest year on record leading up to the 2019 bushfire season which resulted in the bushfire danger period being brought forward to August 1 2019," RFS Lower North Coast Superintendent Lachlann Ison said.
"The conditions are a lot better this year and the country has greened up due to the periodic rain we have experienced."
One of our concerns for this fire season is the coastal strip in the Macleay Valley that didn't burn last year.Superintendent Lachlann Ison
Supt Ison said although conditions are drastically different to this time last year, now is the time to prepare for the coming months.
"We saw the August winds a couple of weeks ago which dried out a number of areas and saw the onset of the bushfire season and difficult conditions," he said.
"Having a bush fire survival plan will ensure all members of the household know what to do on days of increased fire danger and what to do if their home is threatened by fire."
Supt Ison said with summer approaching, Kempsey residents need to be aware and understand how quickly fire can spread and need to be extremely careful when burning off.
"Last Friday we were called to 12 escaped burns where the weather conditions changed and the fire got away. We are reminding people that if they are burning off they need to closely monitor conditions," he said.
"Residents should prepare their property by removing flammable materials from their yards, clearing leaves from gutters, checking hoses can reach all around the house and where appropriate, conducting hazard reduction activities.
"Never leave a fire unattended and if a fire does escape, it is essential to call Triple Zero (000) immediately so that emergency services can respond accordingly and minimise damage."
Supt Ison said local RFS crews are now working on hazard reduction burns to prepare for the warmer months.
"The wet conditions over the past few months have meant we weren't able to conduct hazard reduction burns, but now we are starting to see conditions dry out and are able to burn off," he said.
"One of our concerns for this fire season is the coastal strip in the Macleay Valley that didn't burn last year."
During the bushfire danger period, land owners are required to obtain a fire permit from their local Fire Control Centre before lighting any fires, including hazard reduction burns.
"Residents who are planning to burn off can now provide notification online at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/notify, or call 6626 6860," Supt Ison said.
On days of a total fire ban all fire permits are automatically revoked. Information about hazard reduction burning and required notifications is available on the NSW RFS website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/BFDP.