THE Rural Fire Service has issued a warning to property owners throughout the Bega Valley to be on high alert today.
There is a total fire ban in place and residents are asked to call 000 immediately to report
With temperatures predicted to reach over 40 degrees and westerly winds up to 50km per hour in some parts of the shire, local RFS brigades are facing their most challenging day of the bushfire season.
“It’s a pretty horrible outlook for today and there is no real respite on the cards for the rest of the week,” Rural Fire Service community safety officer Marty Webster said.
“The weather really isn’t backing off and there’s nothing encouraging in the forecast for the rest of the month in terms of widespread rain.
“With this in mind, property owners need to be aware of the conditions today and for the rest of the week and review their Bushfire Survival Plan (BSP) now.
“Even if you have a BSP, you need to be prepared to leave early if conditions take a turn for the worst.”
Over the weekend the RFS attended two small blazes in Pericoe and Verona and Mr Webster said both are being fully investigated.
“These incidents are being seriously investigated and the RFS and the police are taking a zero tolerance attitude when it comes to fire incidents,” Mr Webster said.
Recently high temperatures are part of a heatwave affecting NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s assistant director weather services Alasdair Hainsworth said the very high temperatures already being experienced in Western Australia were now extending eastwards across the continent, driven by an extremely hot air mass.
“Extreme heat events, such as this one, have wide ranging impacts across agricultural and horticultural sectors, infrastructure and transport, and not least human health and safety,” he said.
Mr Hainsworth said a concern was the amount of vegetation following two wet years.
He said this led to high fuel loads that continue to dry out and raise concerns about increased bushfire risk.
Fast moving grassfires are of particular concern.
Mr Hainsworth said the next change was expected to move through southern inland and coastal regions today and tomorrow.
However, after a short respite there will be a continuation of heatwave conditions well into the week.
WorkCover NSW is also warning workers to take precautions this week.
“Employers and workers, especially those working in heat-related conditions, need to remain vigilant to the risks of working in high temperatures given it is expected to be warmer than average across south eastern Australia for the next few days,” WorkCover general manager of workplace health and safety division John Watson said.
“If possible, you should try to re-schedule work to cooler times of the day, for example, early mornings or late afternoons.
“If this is not possible, ensure that workers have access to shaded rest areas, regular rest breaks and plain drinking water, at least 200ml every 15-20 minutes.
“Heat illness can be fatal, with common symptoms including nausea, dizziness, general weakness and collapse.
“If you or your workers are working in a hot environment and have any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical assistance.”
For further information, go to www.bom.gov.au for forecast temperatures, weather and warnings in your state and local region.
Go to www.rfs.nsw .gov.au to learn more about Bushfire Survival Plans and keep track of current fires in the area, or call the bushfire information line on 1800 679 737.
Call 000 to report a fire.