South West Slopes Zone RFS say the weekend's rain has delayed bushfire risk

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) are warning people to remain vigilant despite December starting with a healthy 80 millimetres of rain.

It’s been the wettest start to any month in Cootamundra for a year.

A weekend rain event prompted flood and severe weather warnings from the Riverina to Victoria and forced farmers to get crops harvested as soon as possible.

During Saturday and Sunday 76.5 millimetres fell and an additional four millimetres on Monday were measured at Cootamundra airport.

A car crosses Muttama Creek on Monday.

A car crosses Muttama Creek on Monday.

Looking ahead, RFS South West Slopes Zone district co-ordinator Inspector Tom McDevitt said the rain delayed the danger period for bushfires.

Inspector McDevitt said there up to 137 millimetres fell in areas like Koorawatha near the top of the zone.

“That will delay harvest operations, which will in turn delay our highest risk period,” he said.

“The grass will start growing because of the rain, but it might not reach its full potential because of short grass paddocks and stock keeping grass down."

If more rain fell in the lead-up to Christmas could mean bushfire season continues for longer.

The potential for bushfires is highest when farmers harvest their crops.

“The potential for grass fires still exists and people still need to be vigilant when using power tools,” Inspector McDevitt said.

“People need to take appropriate measures so they can extinguish any ignition when working.”

Inspector McDevitt said that meant fire suppression equipment which was equivalent to the activity – whether it was harvesting or fixing fences.

He said a spark from a lawn mower blade hitting a rock or sparks from an angle grinder on the could start a fire in the right conditions.

“It goes for rural landholders as well as farmers, it means being aware of the time of day and conditions.”


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