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Mayor reminds residents to be alert not alarmed

8 January, 2013Posted in: Community
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Wingecarribee Shire Council is working closely with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service in today’s extreme weather conditions to ensure the community remains as informed and prepared as possible.

A catastrophic fire danger rating was issued on Tuesday, 8 January for the first time in the region, which extends to the Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges.

While there were no fires reported at the time of this media release, the warm and windy conditions are expected to worsen during the afternoon and local Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews remained on high alert.

Mayor Juliet Arkwright commented from her post working with the local RFS and State Emergency Services (SES), reminding residents to be alert but not alarmed.

“We are lucky to have a fantastic crew of RFS and SES workers who are very prepared and are monitoring the situation in the Wingecarribee very closely,” she said.

“We’re asking that residents remain vigilant and report any fires and suspicious behaviour by calling triple zero immediately. With hot weather expected to continue into the weekend, it’s important for the community to be prepared and ready to act if necessary.”

Emergency arrangements have been made for the region, which includes aerial monitoring, standby aircraft and bulk water tankers. Across the state, all RFS volunteers, trucks and tankers are on standby, along with the resources of Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks and Forests NSW.

Due to the extreme weather conditions, reserves, bushland areas and state forests have been closed from 12.01am until 11.59pm on Tuesday, 8 January. Council has also asked that residents do not take grass-cutting on roadside verges upon themselves as this carries a high risk of sparking a grass fire.

In the case of a bush fire, Wingecarribee Shire Council strongly advocates following the guidelines set by the NSW RFS:

  • Ensure you have a bush fire survival plan in place
  • Make a decision early about when you will leave, where you will go and how you will get there
  • Homes are not designed to withstand fires in catastrophic conditions so please leave your property early
  • Do not travel into bush fire prone areas
  • Find out where your ‘Neighbourhood Safer Place’ is located

Even if the threat of a bushfire is not realised, it is important to be aware of the dangers associated with the hot weather. The community is asked to check on vulnerable people and to ensure pets have a cool place to rest and plenty of drinking water.

“It is fantastic to see people coming together under such trying circumstances, and is a true testament to the community spirit of the Southern Highlands,” Councillor Arkwright said.

“Particular thanks must go out to the RFS and SES crews for their ongoing work to ensure the community remains safe and well protected.”

For up to date information on fire activity, Council recommends contacting the Rural Fire Service directly on phone: 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737), website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or following them on Facebook or Twitter.