Widespread heightened summer bushfire risk: Report
Despite widespread rains, large areas of Australia have been placed on heightened bushfire alert. Photo: DFES/AAP
Large parts of Australia are facing an increased risk of summer bushfires, with record-breaking dry spring conditions and warmer-than-average temperatures expected to continue.
Despite recent widespread heavy rain and floods, all states have been placed on heightened alert following the release of the Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Summer 2023.
Large parts of Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory are most at risk while certain regions in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are also vulnerable.
Significant rain over the past few years has led to more vegetation growth and difficult conditions to complete hazard reduction burns, according to the National Council for fire and emergency services report.
The conditions will continue to dry out fuel loads, including some affected during the 2019-20 Black Summer season, increasing the risk of large bush and grassfires.
The current El Niño is tipped to peak in December or January.
The outlook states above normal fire potential is expected in large areas of eastern, central and northern NSW with the drought expected to worsen.
Queensland is “primed” for an extended fire season, particularly around the around the North Tropical Coast, while there’s also above normal fire potential in central areas of the Northern Territory.
Southern parts of South Australia are at risk with higher fuel loads along transportation routes, Tasmania’s southeast has been put on alert while authorities are concerned about both eastern and western Victoria.
Forest and shrubland areas in southern Western Australia face an above average fire danger and the ACT faces a normal bushfire risk.
Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt says the outlook is a clear reminder all Australians need to be prepared.
“Compared with the spring outlook, more capital cities are facing increased risk and of course a lot of Aussies moved to new areas post-COVID, which means larger populations that may be less familiar with bushfire and heatwave preparation,” Senator Watt said.
“I urge people to be aware of the local risk, update their bushfire plans and pack emergency and evacuation kits.”
A number of improvements had been made in delivering better collaboration between governments and agencies, better access to resources and streamlining support, Senator Watt added.
National Council CEO Rob Webb said the increased risk made it important to act.
“Wherever you live, work or visit this summer, know where to find bushfire information, prepare your property, and talk to your family and friends about what you will do in an emergency,” he said.
“Your local fire agency is the perfect place to find out exactly how to stay safe this summer.”