Fire season might start early in Oberon

CONCERN: There are fears about the fire season ahead after a very dry winter on the Central Tablelands. Oberon is well down on its average rainfall.
CONCERN: There are fears about the fire season ahead after a very dry winter on the Central Tablelands. Oberon is well down on its average rainfall.

DESPITE some recent rainfall, conditions are so dry in the Oberon region that firefighters have real concerns the parched landscape is “ready to ignite at the drop of a hat”.

Oberon has received just 276.6 millimetres so far this year compared with a long-term average of 548.7mm.

Lithgow and Bathurst’s rainfall so far this year is also well below average.

And now firefighters are so concerned by the lack of rainfall in Oberon that the bushfire season may be brought forward.

The bushfire season for the Chifley/Lithow zone, which includes Bathurst, Oberon and Lithgow local government areas, usually runs from October 1 to March 31.

But NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Superintendent Greg Sim said the lack of rain means the bushfire season may be brought forward to September 1.

“The grass is curing faster; it’s almost cured now. It’s ready to ignite at the drop of a hat,” he said.

Supt Sim said because the landscape is so dry, despite a little rainfall in late July/early August, any fire will travel faster and be more intense.

“We’re keeping a close eye on things,” he said.

Supt Sim said a number of planned burn-offs conducted on private property in recent weeks had escaped containment lines and resulted in an emergency call-out to the RFS.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Oberon has a 60 per cent chance of rain on Friday and snow is possible above 900 metres.

Bathurst has had 188mm this year compared with a long-term average of 402mm.

Orange has had 291mm compared with a long-term average of 564mm.