Fire threat extreme

MORE TO COME: Byron Bay Rural Fire Service deputy captain Steve Cullen during local fires in August.
MORE TO COME: Byron Bay Rural Fire Service deputy captain Steve Cullen during local fires in August. Doug Eaton

FIREFIGHTERS across the Northern Rivers are bracing themselves for a potentially disastrous week ahead.

The service cancelled the issuing of fire permits in the Richmond Valley, Kyogle and Lismore local government areas on Monday.

“It is incredibly dry,” Rural Fire Service superintendent Boyd Townsend said.

“The rain forecast for the next 10 days is nil.”

The combination of very low soil moisture, forecast temperatures of about 30 degrees over the next five to six days, extremely low humidity and expected strong north-westerly winds had the service worried about the possibility of fires.

The cancellation of fire permits would reduce the risk, Supt Townsend said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Deryn Griffiths said Lismore currently had a drought factor of 10 on a scale of 10.

“We would need wide- spread significant rainfall to reduce the risk,” Ms Griffiths said.

Gusty winds were forecast for today, easing tomorrow and picking up again from Friday through the weekend.

Fire permits may be issued in cases where essential hazard reduction burning is to be carried out. The service will assess each application for a permit on its merits.

Last week a serial arsonist was suspected of lighting three fires in as many weeks along Dyraaba Road near Casino.

An investigation by the fire service into how the fires started has been completed and a report has been made to the police.

Casino-based Detective Senior Constable Shaun McKay said the police were investigating the matter.

The pre-harvest burning of sugar cane will not be affected by the suspension of permits.

The fire service also issued a reminder to landholders to be prepared for the fire season.

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