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Warning about dangerous fire season
Chris Widmer

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has warned a wetter summer does not mean a reduction in bushfire risk and widespread total fire bans are likely to apply.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a wetter than usual summer and the South West has already experienced record breaking rainfall this month, prompting the department to issue a warning against complacency this summer bushfire season.

“The kind of weather we’ve had so far this summer with all the rain is actually very dangerous from a bushfire perspective,” said department Acting Superintendent Chris Widmer.

“The rain means a rapid increase in grass growth which means there’s more fuel around.”

“We’ve also had a large number of lightning strikes across the South West and they’re well known for starting fires.”

The South West has yet to experience a total fire ban this season although the department has issued a total of 15 bans to other areas of the State.

“We expect this trend of an increase in the number of total fire bans declared throughout the summer to continue,” department Deputy Commissioner Operations Lloyd Bailey said.

“This southern bushfire season is expected to be tough, but the more fires we can prevent, the safer we will be.

“You need to know the facts about total fire bans so you can reduce the risk of destructive, accidental bushfires.”

“A total fire ban affects everyone, whether you live in urban or rural areas, and everyone needs to be aware of what it means.

“Last season the total fire ban inquiry line received more than 1200 calls about what the ban means and how it affects regular activities.”

Maximum penalties for ignoring a ban are fines of up to $25,000 or 12 months imprisonment.

Detailed information on total fire bans is available on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website at www.dfes- .wa.gov.au or by calling 1800 709 355.