NSW Rural Fire Service crews say bushland in Lithgow and Bathurst at risk

The region’s current fire risk has been compared to Lithgow when the State Mine fire tore through 56,000 hectares and burnt for almost a month in October, 2013.

On Saturday, a total fire ban was declared for the first time this bushfire season across Bathurst, Oberon and Lithgow.

RFS Chifley/Lithgow Team Operational Officer Brett Taylor said brigades are on a high level of alert, especially for blazes in bushland areas north of Bathurst.

“At the moment, Bathurst and Lithgow are of the greatest concern, especially Hill End and Wattle Flat,” he said.

“Our main concern is fires in bushland because the bush is so dry. The moisture in the ground is non-existent and leaf litter is very dry.

“It’s similar conditions to what we had at the State Mine fire.”

Mr Taylor said, however, that people should be aware grass fires can still occur.

“With grass fires, we’re certainly going to have them, but the fuel’s not there,” he said due to the lack of rain and growth during the past few months.

The very dry conditions have also changed the way crews and brigades are being responded to call outs.

“If we get a triple-0 call to anything we response three or four brigades. It’s unusual for this time of year,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said the quicker brigades can arrive at an incident while it is still in its early stages, the more chance they have of keeping the blaze small.

Chifley/Lithgow RFS crews have been so concerned about local conditions that the region’s bushfire season was brought forward by one month to commence on September 1.

“It’s dramatically reduced the number of people doing burns [on private property],” Mr Taylor said.

Above average temperatures are predicted to continue for the remainder of this week, with Wednesday set to be the hottest with the mercury in the mid 20s.

Mr Taylor urged the community to be careful during the warm weather and vigilant if using fire.

“If you’re going to do any burning just make sure it’s out when you leave it,” he said. “You need to be very careful if you’re using fire for any reason.”