“Quite a few ignitions” across the Riverina have prompted warnings for a significant fire event this summer.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) operational officer Bradley Stewart said while the threat of fire was “always there”, the risks were “elevated this season”.
He said fire brigades had been called to one or two grass fires per day, with flames burning an average of 10-20 hectares for the majority.
Mr Stewart said the RFS had attended four grass fires and an incident involving a vehicle across the weekend alone.
He said while blazes battled across previous weeks were “probably nothing major”, the chances were “well and truly there to have a fairly significant fire” in the coming months.
“Seasonally we’ve seen prolific grass growth,” Mr Stewart said.
“The extensive rain throughout spring put a lot of moisture back into the soil and the soil was able to retain that during the warmer months which led to quite extensive growth.
“I would describe it easily as prolific and therefore the amount of fuel that’s available has increased.”
He said in the past, the fuel wasn’t necessarily present for the fire to “take off”, however the increased growth sitting in rural areas was causing some concern.
Mr Stewart said it was every land owner’s responsibility to prevent the occurrence and spread of fire.
Two Riverina residents have already been issued infringement notices via NSW Police for “foolish” and “reckless” acts causing fire, according to Mr Stewart.
“People fail to realise that fire has a direct impact on others if it escapes.”
“Not everyone can take up insurance… it destroys people’s livelihoods.”
Mr Stewart said more hay-bale stacks on farms in the region had increased the risk of spontaneous combustion, as product break-down created an internal heat.
He said the resulting fire was hard to combat.
“That’s what caused the Oaklands fire last week,” he said. “It’s why we encourage farmers to check their haystacks for heat.”
Mr Stewart said the community message was the same and advised residents to “pay attention to fire danger warnings”.
RFS are advising land owners to keep grass short, maintain their machinery and fire-fighting equipment.
Visit rfs.nsw.gov.au for further fire-season advise.