It's beginning to feel a little like Groundhog Day. The images of wildfires burning across California as the northern summer draws to an end. The requests for assistance from Australia's firefighting agencies. The first bushfire in northern NSW in August.
While we're unlikely to see an exact repeat of last summer's catastrophic fire season this year, even a scaled down version would have disastrous consequences for regional economies.
Already smashed by COVID and the restrictions the virus has necessitated, local economies with significant tourism sectors would be crippled.
There is concern at senior levels of government in NSW about the potential consequences of another bad fire season. The prospect of this year being bookended by fire during an ongoing pandemic should concern us all.
The government's acceptance of all 76 recommendations from the NSW Bushfire Inquiry shows just how seriously the threat is being taken. The report's acknowledgement that climate change was fuelling the fire threat is a welcome reminder of the perils we face if we don't act to reduce emissions.
COVID-19 might be the immediate challenge but the existential threat of a warming climate has not taken pause during the pandemic.
While tackling or adapting to climate change is a longer term issue, staying on top of hazard reduction is an immediate priority. While the focus has been on a potential to compel landowners to conduct hazard burns on their own properties, it should not be forgotten that the biggest fire on the South Coast started in state forest.
A government minister privately conceded that the government, too, needs to be a better neighbour when it comes to fire risk management.
That means addressing hazard reduction systematically in state forests and national parks and maintaining critical road verges to prevent closures if fire should break out.
Increasing our aerial firefighting capacity is also essential. No one can prevent dry lightning strikes but with sufficient aircraft, we have a better chance of bringing remote blazes under control if we have more aircraft.
One thing we should not do is let remote fires burn. Last summer, those blazes arrived all too quickly on our doorsteps.