Dry as a bone as Tweed Firefighters run off their feet


THE RURAL Fire Service (RFS) will host several open days across the Tweed this Saturday, September 16, after the Tweed Shire was almost bone dry in August and spring off to a dry, hot start with very high fire dangers.

NSW RFS operations officer Bob Wilcox said firefighters were run off their feet during the past six weeks with fires breaking out across the Tweed Shire and throughout the state keeping crews under intense pressure.

“We’ve had a fire at Kirkwood Drive, Cabarita and throughout the valley at Tyalgum and Chillingham, there’s a lot all over,” he said.

Mr Wilcox said volunteer firefighters from across the Tweed cover an area from Broadwater to the Queensland border.

“It’s very dry and the winds are strong, so until we get rain we’re going to be busy,” he said.

The RFS said that homes far away from a bush fire are still at risk due to burning embers that can travel large distances.

“Research has found that around 90 per cent of homes destroyed by bush fire are due to burning embers,” the RFS said.

“Embers have the ability to travel many kilometres from the fire.

“This means that even if you live well away from the bush you can still be at risk.”

Murwillumbah RFS Deputy Captain Kenny Harrison said he wanted to encourage the community to visit the open day and learn about how to prepare for the fire season.

“The Get Ready campaign will give people information including cleaning around the house for fire breaks,” he said.

“Having a plan and being prepared were must haves in response to a fire.”

The Murwillumbah RFS event will include demonstrations, kids activities, tours of the facility, fire safety information, free fairy floss and sausage sizzle, free face painting and rides on the fire station go cart.

The Murwillumbah and Cudgen Rural Fire Brigades will host their open days on Saturday, September 16 from 10am to 2pm, Bilambil Rural Fire Brigade from 10am to 3pm and Tweed Coast from 9am to 2pm.

Normal bush fire season predicted

Meanwhile The Southern Australia Seasonal Bush Fire Outlook is predicting a normal fire season for the North Coast, whilst the rest of the state faces an above normal fire potential.

“The current NSW outlook is for above normal fire potential for eastern forested areas of the state,” the report reads.

“The exception to this is the Far North Coast, where a normal fire season is predicted.

“Grassland areas are predicted to have normal fire potential due to reduced fuel loads.”

There was little rain for the Tweed throughout August, with Tweed Heads only receiving 6.2mm, well below the August average of 62mm whilst Murwillumbah recieved only 1.8mm.

The driest August on record for the Tweed was in 2012 where both the valley and the coast received 0mm of rain for the entire month.

The start of September has seen no rain, which is generally the driest month of the year in the Tweed with an average of 41mm in Murwillumbah and on the coast.

According to long range forecasts by Elders weather, the Northern Rivers is expected to have near normal rainfall throughout spring and summer, apart from January which is expected to have “well above normal” rainfall.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a hotter and drier than average September for the Tweed Shire, but rains later in spring should bring about average rainfall totals.

In September the Tweed is expected (75 per cent chance) to receive 10-25mm of rain, half the September average of 25-50mm.

However, throughout spring (September to November) the Tweed has a good chance (75 per cent) of receiving its average spring rainfall of 200-300mm.

The Bureau is predicting an 80 per cent chance of exceeding the September median maximum temperature of 21 degrees and 75 per cent chance of exceeding the median minimum of 9 degrees.