With bushfire season starting early this year, the State Government has reiterated its commitment to maintain and upgrade fire trails on Crown land and allocated an additional $10.6 million.
A Crown Lands flight crew flew out of Albury Airport on Thursday to conduct aerial fire trail inspections across the Riverina as part of a statewide inspection and maintenance program leading into summer.
“Helicopter inspections are an efficient way to check remote locations, cutting inspection times from months to weeks while providing an overview of the Crown land fire trail network,” said Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib.
Before the cool change on Wednesday afternoon (4 October) there were already more than 70 fires burning in NSW.
South Coast crews were tested by a bushfire which burned through thousands of hectares and destroyed several homes.
After days of firefighters fighting the blaze the Coolagolite fire was downgraded to the ‘advice’ threat level on Wednesday leaving more than six-thousand hectares of burned bushland in the Bermagui, Cobargo, Cuttagee and Barraga Bay areas.
An investigation by the Rural Fire Service confirmed at least four homes and a shed were destroyed.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Chris Minns visited Bega and Bermagui this week and warned that we could be in for a “horror summer”.
“We are going into October and we’re experiencing mid-summer conditions, multiple days above 30 degrees, high winds,” said Mr Minns.
“Bushfires love this environment.”
In announcing the additional investment from the NSW Government, Mr Dib said Crown Lands and the Rural Fire Service had begun aerial inspections that would be followed by on-the-ground trail maintenance by the Soil Conservation Service.
“Fire combat agencies such as the Rural Fire Service rely on properly maintained fire trails to access fires as quickly as possible, and to safely retreat when they become too dangerous.
“We are facing a potentially dangerous bushfire season, with hot, dry conditions and vegetation growth creating a higher fuel load.
“We need to ensure our fire trails are properly maintained so our committed firefighting personnel have the best chance possible of containing fires this bushfire season.”
More than 720 fire trails will be inspected by helicopter across the state to ensure that firefighters have ready access to potential danger zones to respond to emergencies and conduct hazard reduction work.
Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said the Government was committed to restoring essential services.
“Fire trails are essential for firefighters to get quick and safe access to fight bushfires and keep our communities, wildlife and properties safe,” he said.
Ground crews will follow the inspections with maintenance work removing excess vegetation, erosion repairs, drainage and soil stability work, and constructing vehicle passing and turning bays for fire trucks.