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Eastern Australia Prepares for Heightened Fire Risk after Unusually Dry and Mild Winter

An area of eastern of Australia from western Victoria to central Queensland has been identified as being at greater risk of bushfires after a successive mild and dry winter.

The Bushfire & Natural Hazards (Cooperative Research Centre) CRC has published its seasonal bushfire outlook for southern Australia. The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2017 is compiled at an annual workshop of the bushfires CRC and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC). The results assist fire authorities to plan for the coming season. This seasons outlook has highlighted the increased risk that the fire season could commence earlier than usual in areas of NSW, Queensland as well as parts of Victoria.

Major cities of Hobart, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, and Brisbane are all within regions identified. The CRC’s annual report adds to evidence that fuel moisture levels are low for this time of year, including around the Sydney region. Victoria, had more rain than NSW in August although there also remains the risk of an early and above-normal season for bushfires.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has predicted that whilst closer to average rainfall levels may be seen in the spring, they warn that such a change could be late in the season.

NSW Rural Fire Service reported last week that the state had already had 2320 fires this season as a result of the weather conditions and the Service has initiated a staff rotation model to provide appropriate respite.

NSW, which has had its third-warmest winter based on average maximum temperatures with around half the normal rainfall expected. The ongoing dry and mild conditions increase the risk of fire.

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Digital Editor for MDM Publishing Ltd