Summer back to fearsome worst 

THE Border and North East went on high alert yesterday with the return of what fire authorities describe as “normal” summer conditions.

A severe fire rating was yesterday declared for the North East for the first time in three years and the Wodonga incident control centre was manned.

Incident controller for the centre, Graham Healy,

said this year had seen the return of a normal summer season — dry fuel loads, hot days, high winds and huge bushfire potential — after years of drought followed by floods.

“It’s not wet, it’s reasonably dry — there’s been no drought — but sooner or later it will all be dry,” Mr Healy said.

“Then you will need only one bad day to spoil the whole summer.

“We know that even in a normal summer we might lose houses and people.

“People need to maintain that vigilance.”

Despite the abundance of media warnings this week, there were some who had not heeded the message.

Duty officer at CFA District 24, Adrian Gutsche, said officers had received a report of a person using a welder at Baranduda early yesterday.

The first and only fire for the day was near  Yackandandah, when a haystack off Kirby Flat Road caught fire through spontaneous combustion.

The hay shed and the stack of export-grade hay was destroyed.

North of the border, the NSW Rural Fire Services’ George Alexander said he was also expecting a 

typical summer which might see two or three smaller fires daily and a large one “every now and again”.

Yesterday, however, things were relatively calm and quiet at the incident control centres where firefighters and officials kept a eye on the rising temperature and, more importantly, the wind.

Today, the temperature on the Border is expected too reach 43 degrees.

Yet the CFA fire-danger rating is likely to fall from severe to very high, due to a drop in wind speed.

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