• Tony Bosworth

Crucial burns planned this weekend - smoke could settle in Hawkesbury and linger into next week

We’ve seen smoke over some areas of the Hawkesbury today and that may increase this weekend as the RFS take advantage of calm conditions to continue hazard reduction burns.

The nearest one to us is Warrigal in the Blaxlands Ridge area which was planned to start today and is likely where most of today's smoke is coming from. That burn is set to continue until Monday, depending on weather conditions, and is on private, National Park, and Crown Land.

NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Rob Rogers said prescribed burns will be carried out across the Sydney, Hunter Valley, and Newcastle regions over the weekend to take advantage of the favourable conditions.

“We’re experiencing light, calm winds that are ideal for these burns. However, it could see smoke linger across certain areas up until mid-next week,” Commissioner Rogers said.

“The smoke from these burns may result in reduced air quality for the Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Newcastle and Hunter regions,” he said.

Commissioner Rogers said it is important to take advantage of every hazard reduction opportunity as wet weather and unfavourable conditions resulted in the postponement of several controlled burns across the state over the last few months.

“It is so crucial that we make the most of these optimal conditions – these planned burns will reduce fuel loads across nearly 5000 hectares providing protection to thousands of homes and people,” Commissioner Rogers said.

“Should the current weather conditions or forecast change, this activity will be amended or postponed. Our firefighters plan well in advance and monitor all these factors right up until when the burns are lit. We also utilise specialised lighting strategies to try to minimise the impact of smoke in the nearby affected areas.”

Members of the public are reminded that they should only call Triple Zero (000) if they see an unattended fire.

People in smoke affected areas should avoid outdoor activity, close doors and windows, keep pets in a protected area, remove washing from clotheslines and, if driving, slow down and turn on headlights.

Asthmatics and people with respiratory or heart conditions should take appropriate precautions, follow treatment and management plans and keep their medication on hand. For further information, go to www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/bushfire-smoke.aspx

A full list and map of scheduled hazard reduction burns for the coming week is available at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/hr

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