The latest bushfire outlook has identified higher-than-normal fire potential on the Far South Coast of New South Wales over the next three months.
The national outlook for the July to September period warned areas of the NSW Far South Coast that did not burn during the last bushfire season were considered particularly vulnerable due to long-term dry conditions.
The outlook, produced by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, stated that dry subsoil conditions on the South Coast was of concern and was being monitored closely.
Concern for areas not burnt this year
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers said he was concerned about problem fires starting in the south east of the state as a result of strong winds and dry conditions.
"I do understand people will be concerned," he said.
"There's quite a lot of area that didn't burn last season — north of Eden, along the coastal strip up to Bermagui and then further south around Bega and west to the ranges," he said.
"It's not going to burn the same areas again, but it's all those areas where those fires stopped, those are the concerning areas for us," he said.
Hope for rain
He said the South East had so far missed out on large rainfall this year, but it was hoped the prospect of a potential east coast low forming this weekend could ease the threat.
"If the forecast rain occurs over the next couple of days then that will ease those conditions considerably," he said.
"Given what those communities have been through in the last season, the last thing we want to see is problem fires so we're watching it very closely and if we do start seeing fires coming up there we'll be doing all we can to suppress them very quickly," he said.
Quaama bushfire relief centre coordinator Veronica Abbott said the community was still very much in the recovery phase from the last bushfire season, which wiped out 466 homes in the Bega Valley.
"We're still trying to get over the shock of what happened," Ms Abbott said.
"I just felt sick looking at that map. We need to hand the movie script over to someone else because we don't like the way the plot is going," she said.
"Now people are being presented with news that our little area might be hit again — I'm really worried about people's wellbeing. We need some serious mental health support out on the ground.
"I just hope the rain forecast eventuates because a lot of what has been predicted has passed us by and other areas are getting a lot but we're just getting a few spots here and there," she said.
Kimberley on alert
The outlook also identified higher than normal fire conditions in parts of the Kimberley in Western Australia.
Authorities are going all-out to mitigate a heightened threat of bushfire in the Kimberley and prepare communities in case a re-emergence of coronavirus reduces their ability to respond.
Queensland's fire potential was considered normal, but there was a higher risk of grass fires.
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC said the summer bushfire outlook remained unclear.
It said the potential fire threat past September remains dependent on rainfall and the possibility of above-average rainfall if the predicted La Niña conditions eventuate.ABC