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Sat Sep 14, 2019, 06:39 AM

130 Fires In NSW & Queensland, Temps 10C Over Averages, And It's Still Winter Down There

Firefighters in New South Wales and Queensland are gearing up for a week of unseasonably warm weather as they continue to battle blazes across the two states. And the former head of NSW’s urban fire service says early Australian bushfire seasons are here to stay, as he urges the federal government to step in as resources and firefighting assets stretch beyond current capacity.

Greg Mullins served as commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW from 2004 until his retirement in 2017 and currently sits on the Climate Council, a national climate change communications body. With NSW bushfires making an early mark in 2019 – including the destruction of nine homes over the past week in the state’s north – Mullins says authorities should prepare for more of the same in coming years.

He says the entire Australian strategy of tackling bushfires – sharing firefighting resources between states as the risk moves from northern states in spring to southern states in summer – is under threat.

Climate change has made nights and winters warmer, increasing the possibility extreme bushfires would burn in different states simultaneously. “What’s becoming difficult is the whole paradigm of strategic firefighting in Australia – it was predicated on progressive fire seasons,” he says. “As we saw last year and now, we’re getting simultaneous fire seasons. “States are having to resource their own fires while other states are screaming out for help and there’ll be times when each state says, you’re on your own.”



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