While most people have been busy ringing in the new year, firefighters have been hoping for a quiet start to 2016.
With the disaster in Victoria fresh in people’s minds, where 116 houses were destroyed in a fire that started on Christmas Day, the RFS wants residents to make sure they know what to do before a deadly fire occurs.
The Riverina experienced the threat of fire first-hand earlier this month where an aggressive grass fire burnt through 200 hectares in a short time near Collingullie.
RFS district officer Steve Quinlan said fuel levels had dropped since harvesting, but the Riverina is drier than usual for this time of the year.
“Grass curing levels are around the 90 to 100 per cent mark,” Mr Quinlan said.
“It’s a little bit ahead of other years. The main concern around here is when we have a windy day.”
Mr Quinlan urged anyone who hasn’t already done so to put together a fire plan.
“One thing we’ve taken away from the fires in Victoria was property preparation was lacking,” he said.
“You can’t expect a fire truck on every property.”
Mr Quinlan said, with a lot of people hitting holiday destinations, to be aware of the fire dangers in areas they might not be used to.
“People travelling need to know what to do and where to go in case of a bush fire,” he said, adding residents can go to myfireplan.com.au to learn about the area in which they are travelling.
“There is a map of neighbourhood safer places where people can go if a fire is in the area.”
With many choosing to take a few days to get back to nature, Mr Quinlin said campers needed to be careful with any fires.
“When camping, people need to fully extinguish their cooking fires when leaving their camp site,” he said.
“Dumping soil on the embers is not enough.
“We’ve heard of a few cases where people have been burnt stepping on covered camp fires that hadn’t been extinguished.”
A camp fire needs to be two metres clear in all directions of any combustible material.