Utilities warning of bushfire risks

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The bushfire danger period has begun two months early in parts of New South Wales, with the Rural Fire Service warning 12 areas around the Northern Tablelands, mid-north coast and south coast are susceptible due to continuing dry conditions.

Climate Councillor and former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW Greg Mullins said bushfire conditions in Australia are becoming more extreme and unpredictable as a result of climate change.

“Our fire seasons are becoming longer and more severe.  Last August parts of NSW experienced out of control fires and there were Total Fire Bans in September,” he said.

“Rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas are worsening extreme weather and putting people in danger.

“We need real leadership from our Federal Government. It must adopt a credible climate policy and Australia must continue the transition to renewables with storage technologies.”

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Meanwhile in the Sunshine State, Ergon Energy and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) are urging property owners to take extra precautions while conducting controlled burns near the electricity network.

Ergon safety advisor Kevin Hore warns there are multiple hazards when power poles are damaged or destroyed by fire.

“If a power pole is accidentally razed in an uncontrolled burn it could cause injuries as it is falling and after it brings down high-voltage powerlines, which can pose a serious threat to people and livestock,” Mr Hore said.

“Just as concerning is a pole that is only partially burnt because it could be significantly weakened and snap during high winds or storm activity at a later date, bringing down high-voltage wires.

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“Network damage from fires not only presents a significant danger for those in the immediate vicinity, it can also cut power to nearby residents for extended periods until it is safe for our restoration crews to enter the area,” he said.

Rural Fire Service (RFS) assistant commissioner John Bolger said taking precautions before and during hazard reduction burns could significantly minimise the risk of damaging property and electricity infrastructure.

“I urge landholders to be aware of their surrounds and remain vigilant to ensure yourself, your family and your property are kept safe while conducting any bushfire mitigation work,” he said.

“To minimise the chances of fire damaging powerpoles and property, I would encourage property owners to trim or clear any long grass, foliage and rubbish within a three metre radius of their electricity infrastructure and remain with any controlled burns they carry out.

“If your council area is not currently drought declared, dampening the cleared three metre radius with water can also reduce the chances of accidental damage to property.

“It is important to note that it is illegal to leave any controlled burn unattended, and permits must be obtained from your local Fire Warden before you light up.”