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Heat sparks RFS warning

Friday, 4th January, 2013

 By Gayle Ball 

 Residents are being urged to be extra careful when using machinery during the  heat wave due to the risk of causing a grass fire.

Robyn Favelle, Operations Manager with the Far West Rural Fire Service (RFS) in Cobar, said anyone using equipment like mowers, slashers, welders and grinders should be careful as a single spark could ignite major fires.

“You should be careful with any sort of equipment like that when in the heat with hot and dry conditions,” Ms Favelle told the BDT.

“We had two wet years and there’s a lot of grass out there.

“It will be very hot and dry and we have a high fuel source.”

Motorists are also being advised to be careful when pulling over to the side of the road. Ms Favelle said they should avoid parking in grassy areas and instead find a clear area.

She said while the hot conditions were a concern, most grass fires in the Far West were started by lightning.

“Although the temperature’s predicted to be very high, there are no major storms predicted.”

“The majority of fires we had in the past two summers have been from lightning.”

The RFS uses internet mapping tool Sentinel Hotspots to track fires in the region as well as a lightning tracker.

“That’s been a big help to us. We’re using new technology to support us in locating fires earlier.”

Ms Favelle said the RFS Brigades in the Far West will be on high alert as the heat wave continues.

“Brigades are volunteers; we don’t want to be sending them out in these conditions.”

Elsewhere in NSW, firefighters are warning residents to prepare for bushfires this weekend with windy and dry conditions tipped for much of the State, along with the hottest temperatures in four years.

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