Despite recent wet weather, bushfires remain a major threat for WA in coming months.
The south west of WA has been classified as at above normal risk for bushfires by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre in its Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2017, due to having its driest autumn in five years.
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC chief executive Richard Thornton said: “While winter has seen good rainfall in this area, soil moisture is still dry, indicating that the underlying dryness is still present.
“The recent rain will allow strong grass growth, which does not take long to dry out once temperatures rise. It only takes a few days of high temperatures and strong wind.”
The Parks and Wildlife Service at WA’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions undertakes prescribed burning during the spring and autumn periods across three of the south-west forest regions to reduce fuel loads and prevent bushfires.
A DBCA spokesperson said in the 2016/2017 financial year, the department burnt 247,360 hectares which was the best result in 29 years.
“In its south-west forest regions, the department aims to have 45 per cent of the landscape it manages, around 2.5 million hectares, at less than six years since last burnt,” said a DBCA spokesperson.
Due to the recent wet weather, the department had burnt around 5275 hectares of forest since July 1, according to the spokesperson.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services superintendent south east metro Ross Delaney said the DBCA prescribed burning was targeted and strategic, so the department would continue to work towards its target throughout spring as the weather improved.
With the bushfire season starting on Sunday, the DFES has launched its new ‘Are You Bushfire Ready?’ campaign urging Western Australians to be prepared.
“I don’t think the community really understands what it’s like to be in a bushfire, in a really serious bushfire – the smoke, the heat. It’s terrifying,” Mr Delaney said.
“And, you don’t want to be thinking about what you’re going to be doing when that starts to happen.”