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Higher fire danger risk looms for South Coast, but coming rain could be welcome relief

The South Coast will experience above normal fire danger over the coming three months.

The South Coast will experience above normal fire danger over the coming three months.Credit:Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook: July 2020

But the RFS says it is also concerned for the Hunter and western regions, the central coast, and Sydney.

While large parts of NSW have welcomed rain in the past few months, they have also hampered hazard-reduction burns. The rains, though, have also had only a limited effect, with the government estimating almost 90 per cent of the state remains affected by drought or is still drought-striken.

The bushfire outlook, though, notes that, if a significant rain event affects the South Coast, the fire potential for the next three months could decrease.

Such an event could occur early next week as a low-pressure system looks likely to form off the coast, with areas south of the Hunter region likely to get heavy rains.

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Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Helen Kirkup said where the rainfall will hit and how much will fall is still uncertain, but it’s likely the South Coast and Illawarra regions would see a “decent amount”.

“The South Coast could easily see 20 to 30 millimetres of rain, but 60-80 mm is not out of question,” she said.

“Over the last few days, the strength and position [of the low] has been really uncertain.”

NSW RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers says he feels better heading into this fire season than he did last year.

“We are a lot better off from a moisture point of view than last year,” he told the Herald.

However, increased rainfall can create greater grass fuel loads, which can dry through summer and result in deadly grass fires.

“We’re not concerned at the moment but, as the months go on and it starts to dry out, we’ll be monitoring things as we start to get closer to October and November,” he said.

“It’s a different type of fire; they can be deadly because they move significantly quicker than a bushfire.

“If you get caught out in the open, you can’t outrun it. You’ve really got to watch out.”

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