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Far west fire emergency declaration

By Eugene Boisvert, Tuesday January 8, 2013 - 08:45 EDT

Firefighters across New South Wales are preparing for what they say will be one of the highest fire danger days ever.

A section 44 emergency declaration has been made for the far west, allowing the Rural Fire Service to access additional resources like aircraft.

Only two fires are still burning out of control in the area - at Marrapina Station, about 120km north east of Broken Hill - after lightning due last night failed to eventuate.

Another 22 fires are currently being monitored by the RFS in the Central Darling Shire and the unincorporated area.

RFS far west manager Chris Favelle says about 40 firefighters are currently on duty in the far west.

"I'm confident our firefighters will manage the job unless something dramatic happens and we get massive fires," he said.

"It seems to me they're getting around them pretty quickly as long as the weather stays with us, but I don't know for how long we can continue to deal with the numbers of fires that we seem to be getting."

There's a total fire ban in the far western area of New South Wales and the north east pastoral district of South Australia.

Superintendent Favelle says firefighters in the far west are getting practised at fighting the grassfires plaguing the far west over the past few months.

"We've got massive fuel loads across the country in the far west following a good few seasons, and it's all very, very dry at the moment, as it would be after all the heat we've had, so that's generally our biggest issue," he said.

"We do have some scrubby country, and once fires get into that they become more difficult to get around."

The heatwave is expected to end tomorrow, with forecasts in the low 30s.

But the heat will be back soon with temps again rising to the 40s by Friday.

Phil Mew from the Weather Bureau in Broken Hill says there is possible long-range relief in sight.

He says a low pressure system south-west of Africa could arrive in southern Australia in about seven days and bring cool winds with it from Antarctica.

But Mr Mew says for now the far west can expect hot days and warm nights.

"Hopefully we may receive a change that will come through but basically it depends if there's a strong enough frontal system coming up from the south-west," he said.

"It's more probable that the temperatures are going to remain high, and even if we get the odd day down around 30 degrees, it's a blessing, but the trouble is the temperatures within the days after that will probably go back up into the high 30s or low 40s."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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