Campfires and barbecues using wood, charcoal or other solid fuels will be banned in most State forests until further notice to reduce the risk of bushfires. Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Senior Manager of Stewardship, Kathy Lyons said campers and picnickers could continue to bring and use gas stoves during the ban, except during declared total fire bans. “Fire season has commenced early this year due to the very dry conditions and warmer days across much of the state. Forest fuels and soils are extremely dry and our firefighters on the north coast are already fully committed fighting many fires which have taken off due to windy conditions. “Recently we have had three wildfires ignite from escaped campfires – one each on the south coast, hunter and mid north coast. “All fires using solid fuels such as wood or charcoal are now banned in most State forests across the state until further notice. This ban applies to State forests of the South Coast, Sapphire Coast, the Watagan Mountains, Barrington Tops, Mid North Coast, Coffs Coast, Northern and Southern Tablelands, Central West, Mid-west and North-west NSW. “Campers and picnickers wishing to light a fire to cook in these forests can only use gas appliances until the ban is lifted which won’t be until after significant rainfall. “This ban applies every day, not just on days when total fire bans are declared, so we are asking people who are planning to camp in the forests during spring and summer to plan ahead and bring gas appliances. “Visitors should also be prepared for days when total fire bans are declared, as all fires including gas fires are prohibited on total fire ban days. Information on total fire bans is available on the Rural Fire Service website.” Ms Lyons said Solid Fuel Fire Bans had been enforced in a number of State forests since 1990 to reduce the risk of bushfires. “State forests are popular with campers and visitors throughout the spring and summer period and while we encourage people to get out into our forests and enjoy them, we do need to act to reduce the bushfire risk during the high fire danger period,” Ms Lyons said. “Solid fuel fire bans improve safety for campers and local communities and they have also potentially helped save many thousands of hectares of forests from destructive fires since 1990.” The exception to this ban is State forests in the Snowy Mountains and the River Red Gum where the forests are not as dry due to recent snow and rain. Failure to comply with the Solid Fuel Fire Ban carries a maximum penalty of $2200. For more information about Forestry Corporation of NSW, visit www.forestrycorporation.com.au In the event of a fire or other emergency, contact 000.