Aerial firefighters were dispatched on Wednesday to tackle a bushfire spreading in strong winds near the NSW-Queensland border – leading to fears Australia could face an early start to the season.
The blaze began burning at Clothiers Creek Road and the Pacific Highway at Duranbah, in northern NSW and grew to destroy more than 225 hectares of land.
Advice: Pacific Hwy, Duranbah. Crews are on scene at fire burning in the area of Clothiers Creek Rd and Pacific Hwy at Duranbah. Residents in area of Forest Hill Rd and Tanglewood should monitor conditions, take advice from firefighters and follow bush fire survival plan. #NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/9nUEEG4Tn6
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) August 19, 2020
While conditions improved on Wednesday night, the NSW RFS warned strong NW winds on Thursday meant locals should remain vigilant. There is currently, however, no threat to properties or people.
The blaze is burning through swampy grass to the north of Clothiers Creek Road, and it’s suspected it spread from a burn off on a private property.
NSW RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers previously said while an early fire season is not “unusual in these areas”, increased grass growth due to recent rain could prove problematic over the next few months.
“Grass fires can be especially dangerous because they start quickly and spread rapidly, destroying not only homes and stock, but also lives and livelihoods,” he said.
The official bushfire danger period doesn’t begin until 1 October, leading to concerns the country could face another period battling bushfires alongside coronavirus restrictions.
Australian Aviation previously reported that there were more accidents and safety incidents involving aerial firefighting aircraft in the financial year covering the last bushfire season than any in the previous 20.
The findings formed part of an ATSB submission into the so-called bushfire royal commission, created in the wake of the “Black Summer” bushfire crisis.
However, the report warned that the rise was likely due to there being a four-fold increase in firefighting activity compared with other summers, rather than a higher rate of occurrence.
ATSB director of transport safety, Dr Stuart Godley, said, “Aviation activity relating to aerial firefighting has increased over recent bushfire seasons. Further, there were two fatal aerial firefighting accidents between August 2018 and March 2020, whereas in the previous 17 years there were only three fatal accidents.”