Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hunter warned of high fire risk over weekend - ABC Online

It may be spring, but this weekend is set to bring a touch of summer to the Hunter.

Temperatures are forecast to push up towards the high 20s for much of the region, with some places, including Muswellbrook, Scone and Maitland set to crack the 30 degree mark.

Along with the high temperatures, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting the chance of thunderstorms on Saturday, and a medium chance of showers.

The BOM is forecasting Saturday to be the hotter day of the weekend, with temperatures expected to drop to the low 20s on the coast on Sunday, but remaining in the high 20s to low 30 degree bracket in the Upper Hunter.

Fire risk

With high temperatures and the chance of storms, the risk of a bushfire breaking out increases.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) has issued a Very High fire danger rating for the Greater Hunter district for Saturday.

"The forecast shows that regions around the Hunter and north along the coast and inland west of the divide [will experience] conditions around the mid to low-30s (degrees) across the weekend," said NSW RFS spokesman Matt Sun.

"That's going to be accompanied by relatively low humidity of around 20 to 30 per cent in some areas; but fortunately the winds aren't going to be overly strong- they're forecasting 20 to 30 kilometre per hour winds. They may change locally, but fortunately we're not expecting strong gusts.

"There will be a very high fire danger in several areas of the state; very high is where we're asking people to be vigilant about their activities. Just be mindful too that fire permits have been suspended in several areas along the coast just this week."

How to best prepare

The Rural Fire Service is warning people in the Hunter to prepare early in case a fire breaks out.

"They should be cleaning their gutters; they should be removing unnecessary fuel from around their yards; and doing all the usual preparation things," said Mr Sun.

"Now is the time to get preparations done.

"[Also] have your Bushfire Survival Plan ready, and have those conversations with your family."

Despite the warm conditions bringing an increased state of alert for residents, Mr Sun said it isn't out of the ordinary to experience weather like this.

"October traditionally has weather that can range across the board, and high temperatures aren't all that unusual at this time of year. This is weather that we can expect to see a lot more of."

During a fire

The ABC's Catalyst program looked at how people respond during an emergency situation.

The program studied a volunteer family and how they reacted in a replicated bushfire emergency scenario.

The results showed the volunteers found it difficult to make quick, simple decisions; and they struggled to cope during the faux bushfire emergency.

The RFS warns people to access its website, or 'Fires Near Me' app during a day of high fire danger, to keep up to date with information.

Tune in to ABC Local Radio and go online to ABC Emergency for further details on bushfire warnings.

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