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Smoky weekend for the Blue Mountains as 5,500 hectares of hazard reduction burning gets underway

Media release: 8 May 2014

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) plans to take advantage of a window of favourable weather to get two major hazard reduction (HR) burns completed in the Blue Mountains this weekend.

Following a wet start to the season, it has been very difficult to complete burning operations, NPWS Regional Manager Alan Henderson said.

Weather permitting the following HRs will go ahead:

• Friday, 9 May – 3,000 hectare Little Crater burn, south of Glenbrook and west of the Warragamba Dam;
• Saturday, 10 May – 2,500 hectare Mt Bedford burn, 3km south east of Wentworth Falls, Bullaburra and 2km south of Lawson, Hazelbrook and Woodford.

“For the safety of crews and neighbours, and to the ensure these burns are effective, they can only be undertaken when the weather is right – it cannot be too wet, cold or windy – making scheduling them very tricky,” Mr Henderson said.

“The proposed burn area for the Little Crater burn is remote and bounded by the Warragamba and Nepean River to the east, Erskine Creek to the north, Big Crater Creek to the west and Erskine Range (W5 management trail) to the south.

“It will protect private property to the east of Warragamba River by reducing fuel loads to minimize the risk of wildfire spreading from Blue Mountains National Park into Warragamba and Silverdale townships.

“This is a joint operation with the Rural Fire Service (RFS) which will also help to protect Sydney Catchment Authority assets to the south east of the burn including the Warragamba dam wall and its associated structures.

“There is the potential for smoke from this burn to drift towards the western and southwestern suburbs of Sydney.

“Meanwhile, the 2,500 hectare Mt Bedford HR is planned to begin on Saturday and will also be conducted in partnership with RFS.

“In the interests of visitor safety, Ingar Road, Andersons Trail and Bedford Creek trail will be closed for the duration of the burn, which is designed to limit the potential for wildfire to spread west to east and impact on life and property throughout the Blue Mountains.

“Smoke will be visible between Katoomba and Springwood and smoke drift may impact the Great Western Highway, the Oaks Fire Trail and lower mountains townships.

Both operations and associated closures are likely to continue for a number of days. Updates regarding National Park closures may be found on the national parks website:http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/safety/fires-and-park-closures

“People with asthma or those susceptible to respiratory problems are also advised to keep clear of the immediate area or stay indoors.”

You can subscribe to air quality alerts from the Office of Environment and Heritage here http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/aqialerts.htm

The NPWS has undertaken 895 hazard reduction activities covering 70,000 hectares in total, including 160 hazard reduction burn operations for 2013-14.

In 2012-13 the NPWS achieved a record 208,000 hectares in 1300 separate fuel reduction activities. This was 83% of the total hazard reduction effort for NSW, demonstrating a clear commitment by NPWS to manage fire in accordance with its Living with Fire 2012-21 strategy.

Under the Enhanced Bushfire Management Program, NPWS will pursue its plan to treat an average of over 135,000 hectares per year in 800 or more planned hazard reduction activities. Achieving this will be highly dependent on the suitability of weather conditions given the narrow window of opportunity that exists in NSW for burning safely and effectively.

Read more about hazard reduction burns planned across all land tenures: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
For more information on planned hazard reduction burns, visit the Rural Fire Service website: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

Contact: Susie Summers

Page last updated: 08 May 2014