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Bushfire season comes early to northern NSW

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The bushfire season began in Queensland last week and was declared two months early in parts of NSW after some regions received record low July rainfall.

NSW Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers says areas in the state’s north have experienced extremely dry conditions.

“It is a worrying sign, especially given we have received only half of the average rainfall during winter and no meaningful rain is forecast in the next few months,” he said.

NSW has declared the bushfire danger period under way in Armidale, Regional Clarence Valley, Glen Innes, Severn, Inverell, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha.

Landowners and managers are required to obtain permits before lighting fires, including hazard-reduction burns, during the period, which usually begins on October 1.

Dry conditions have also increased risks in Queensland.

“This year’s season is particularly concerning, given some parts of the state are already very dry and experiencing significant bushfire activity,” Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said.

The Bureau of Meteorology says it was the nation’s driest July since 2002, while rainfall in the NSW Northern Inland and West Slopes areas set a record low.

Lisa Kable from the Insurance Council of Australia’s Understand Insurance initiative says recent wildfires in California provide a reminder of the need to prepare.

“With early indicators pointing to severe bushfire danger in many parts of our country, Understand Insurance is encouraging home and business owners in rural areas and bush-fringe suburbs to urgently prepare their properties and personal evacuation plans,” she said.