Early start to burn offs

ASTHMATICS and allergy sufferers might not be too happy about the smoke around Collie lately, but the annual bush burn offs are here to stay.

February’s fires at Northcliffe and closer to home at Boddington were a reminder of how quickly things can go bad.

The fires eventually entered the Shire of Collie and covered homes with ash as locals were placed on high alert.

This year, authorities have moved swiftly, with the burn-offs in the South West starting early.

Department of Parks and Wildlife district manager Drew Griffiths said more than 9000 hectares had been burnt.

“Every year we aim to burn a certain amount of land,” he said.

“Theses burnoffs offer a whole heap of protection to towns.

“We plan to burn three times what we have done so far.”

This year the state government has contributed extras funds through the Royalties for Regions fund, which has allowed for extra burns.

“The specific funding has allowed us to do extra burns in areas we may not have covered due to a lack of resources,” Mr Griffiths said.

“For example, we can now employ local contractors to help with traffic management for burns near roads.

“It’s an expensive process which we couldn’t always do in the past.”

Support for the Collie and Harvey teams have come from Merredin, Narrogin, Wanneroo, Kirup and Busselton fire crews.

The burn-offs will continue into the near future until conditions no longer permit.

“We also continue to receive fantastic support from local bush fire brigade volunteers,” Mr Griffiths said.

“We will keep going until it gets too dry around early December.

“Conditions have to be just right – not too dry and not too wet. It a difficult process as conditions can change quickly.

“As we all know we have had a very dry winter.”

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