Fire tower spotters stop spread of spot fires

Forestry Corporation of NSW’s network of fire towers in the Hunter and Mid North Coast proved instrumental in spotting and controlling several forest fires during yesterday’s extreme high fire danger period, with crews dispatched to half a dozen fires spotted from the towers.

Forest Protection Manager Karel Zejbrlik said Forestry Corporation had more than 100 fire towers statewide and the only network of fire towers on the Mid North Coast.

“The faster we can get a crew to a fire, the better chance we have of getting it under control before it develops into a large damaging wildfire that can put the forest or local communities at risk. That’s why our network of fire towers is crucial – because it allows us to rapidly detect new fires and get firefighters on the ground without delay,” Mr Zejbrlik said.

“Yesterday’s heat carried an extreme fire risk, so we had trained firefighters stationed in fire towers across the region to spot fires in State forests and across the landscape.

“Our spotters picked up six blazes yesterday, including three that were previously undetected. One of the fires spotted was in the remote Riamukka State Forest. Firefighting crews from our Walcha office quickly deployed with a dozer and heavy firefighting equipment and worked through the night to bring the blaze under control.

“Another fire spotted from the fire tower at Warrawalong yesterday afternoon was extinguished by early evening thanks to quick work from Forestry Corporation and RFS crews.

“The fire towers are around six metres high and are built on vantage points that allow us to see over large areas of State forest, national park and private property. When our spotters see smoke, they use a triangulation technique developed in the war time era to quickly detect where the fire is and either deploy a Forestry Corporation crew if on State forest or inform the Rural Fire Service or National Parks and Wildlife Service if on a private property or national park.

“We leave nothing to chance when it comes to protecting State forests from wildfire and also invest heavily in training our firefighting staff, maintaining a network of roads and fire trails and a fleet of heavy firefighting equipment and completing hazard reduction burning during the cooler months.”

While the fire threat has eased in the Hunter and mid north coast, Forestry Corporation crews continue to assist in fighting large fires threatening homes and plantations in Tabulam west of Casino and near the town of Tingha. Heavy equipment and crews have been dispatched from throughout the State to support the firefighting effort.

Forestry Corporation is responsible for preventing and managing fires in two million hectares of State forests across New South Wales. It also assists with large bushfires on private property, other bushland, interstate and overseas as part of the State’s combined firefighting response.

Media contact: Elizabeth Fowler 9407 4265/ 0408 779 903