This week marked the start of the 2020/21 bushfire season for Singleton and Muswellbrook LGAs

BE PREPARED: NSW Rural Fire Service - Hunter Valley, Inspector Ken Hepplewhite is reasonably optimistic about the 2020/21 bushfire season.

BE PREPARED: NSW Rural Fire Service - Hunter Valley, Inspector Ken Hepplewhite is reasonably optimistic about the 2020/21 bushfire season.

The Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) weather prediction for this coming spring could not be in starker contrast to this time in 2019.

Twelve months ago the seasonal outlook was dire with drought combining with higher temperatures to make the entire region and state tinder dry and at risk of catastrophic fires.

And that is certainly what we got with 33 lives lost nationally along with 3000 homes leaving thousands homeless, billions of native animals burnt to death and the air pollution reported to have killed more than 400 people.

According to the BOM spring 2020 is expected to be wetter than average across much of eastern Australia thanks to high chance (rated at 70 per cent) of the arrival of La Nina - this is a weather system noted for its higher rainfall in contrast to the lower rainfall drought inflciting El Nino.

"That outlook really pleases us," said Inspector Ken Hepplewhite, NSW Rural Fire Service -Hunter Valley located at Bulga.

"But in saying that we don't want people to think we aren't still at risk from bushfires.

"The 2020/21 bushfire season started on Tuesday and we are hopeful of an easier time this year but we all have to remain vigilant and have our bushfire plan at the ready."

The biggest risk at present, due to good autumn and winter rainfall, is grassfires.

"Last week we had a couple of good frosts and that has dried out the grasses and the fact we haven't had rain for a couple of weeks. So once the we start to get some warmer days the chance of grassfires increases," Insp. Hepplewhite said.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said all Australians, especially in the high-risk areas, should now be preparing to protect their family and property against bushfires.

"While communities across Australia are continuing to recover and rebuild from the horrific 2019-20 bushfire season, the next challenge is to make sure we are all prepared for the risks facing us over the coming summer," Minister Littleproud said.

"In the south-east of the country, experts are warning of potentially hazardous grassland fires due to above average levels of growth brought on by wetter than average conditions expected through spring.

"While we can work with authorities to properly prepare, it's also critical families, households and individuals do what they can to prepare themselves.

"Talk to your neighbours, ask them about their evacuation plan and let them know about your plan. People wanting more information on how to plan and prepare, should contact their local fire service."

From September 1 landholders will require a permit to carry-out any burning off to clean up properties.

Insp. Hepplewhite said the RFS had received an increase in the number of people seeking permits and it should be remembered people are allowed to burn-off. "We have been called out recently to attend approved fires that people were worried about," he said.

In the next six weeks hazard reduction burns will take place locally on the Singleton Infantry base - army range weather permitting.

This story Bushfire season is now here first appeared on Muswellbrook Chronicle.