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Clarence Peak, as viewed from Maclean Lookout last Thursday. Image: Geoff Helisma.

RFS warns of fire danger; fire season starts early

Geoff Helisma | People lighting fires outdoors, other than cooking fires, will require a permit as of today August 1. “Recent frosts and the absence of any significant rain over the past few months have increased the potential for fires to rapidly escalate,” Clarence Valley District Rural Fire Service (RFS) posted on its Facebook (FB) site last week (July 25). The extensive smoke pall that has blanketed much of the valley over recent weeks is the result of numerous fires, many of which have been attended by RFS volunteers. “The majority of these incidents have been a result of land owners burning off and losing control of their fire,” the FB post stated. “Some have been minor fires, while others continue to require significant resourcing from the Rural Fire Service & Forest Corporation.” The RFS district’s operations officer, Ian Smith, said fires burning in the Richmond Valley had added to the haze. Mr Smith said surrounding regions – Richmond Valley, Lismore, Kyogle and the Northern Tablelands have also brought forward the fire season by a month. He said that the “perception people cannot” continue with hazard reduction burns or bonfires once a permit is required is wrong. “We will come out and inspect and ensure that sound containment strategies are in place,” he said. From today onwards permits can be arranged by phoning 6644 5135. Significant penalties apply if people fail to notify and/or if the fire escapes their property. These penalties are both subject to criminal and civil law. A permit is required for any outdoor fire apart from a cooking fire.
This photograph was taken by RFS volunteer Peter Watt of Maclean, as described on his FB site: “This was yesterday [July 25] SW of Grafton. We were assisting our State Forests contain a fire that was burning, but between the two agencies, [it’s] now pretty well under control.”