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Heat prompts fire and snake alert

Friday January 18, 2013 - 07:01 EDT

As the Hunter braces for more spiking temperatures that have prompted a total fire ban for New South Wales, firefighters say it is vital bushfire warnings are heeded by travellers to the region.

After a few days of relief, the weather is expected to soar past 40 degrees again today, with parts of the Upper Hunter bracing for a top temperature of 43.

The fire danger for the Hunter region has been upgraded to severe.

Community safety officer with the Liverpool Range RFS, Graham Brown, says while locals seem to understand the threats the weather poses, visitors may not.

"They may not know the risks associated with the area they're in," he said.

"So I would encourage them to actually do a Bushfire Survival Plan and use the information in the two page check list.

"Are we going to camp here or is it a good time to find somewhere else to camp for the night?"

The RFS says weeks of fire break-outs across the Hunter and Liverpool Range zones have left its volunteers feeling stressed but prepared.

Mr Brown says it has already been a busy summer for local firefighters.

"We've had over 90 fires in the past two months and the last two weeks in particular have strained them and stressed them," he said.

"They are still coping well, however we encourage everyone to be very fire-wise and try and prevent the spread of more fires."

And as the weather heats up, Hunter residents are being warned to keep an eye out for snakes trying to shelter in cool places.

Wildlife Aid President Bruce Mulligan says they could turn up anywhere.

"I've had snakes in people's lounge rooms, in their vehicles, in their office buildings, they turn up everywhere," he said.

"They're hidden and they feel protected.

"Anywhere they can get their head the body can follow."

Mr Mulligan says at the peak of the warm weather just weeks ago, he was being called out to remove snakes from properties around the Upper Hunter twice daily.

He recommends people stay out of the snake's way and not to distress the animal in any way.

Mr Mulligan says when the mercury starts to rise, snakes need to protect themselves from the heat.

"They prefer to be at about 30 degrees, so if they're in a position where they're getting warmer than that, they have to get out of the heat because it will kill them," he said.

"You'll probably be more likely to encounter them when you move sheets of iron on the ground or things like that."

Wildlife Aid is a Not-for-Profit association serviced by volunteers to rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned native fauna in the Greater Hunter area.

Their hotline is 0447 667 737.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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