A BUSHFIRE emergency on the South Coast is an ominous warning for the season to come across NSW.
Winter is not yet over but already fire crews have responded to terrible blazes burning up and down the east coast of Australia on Wednesday.
The most serious blazes were on the South Coast around Nowra and Ulladulla, but at the same time a blaze was reported much closer to home near Bilpin in the Blue Mountains.
That quick-moving fire was fanned by strong winds throughout the afternoon on Wednesday, threatening isolated properties and forcing the closure of the Bells Line of Road – one of the major transport links between Sydney and the Central West.
More startling was the fact the NSW fires started at the same time as a large contingent of the state’s top firefighting personnel was overseas helping control major blazes in California.
Simply, we don’t expect to see these conditions at this time of the year in this part of the world, but it looks like they are only going to get worse.
It’s almost become a cliche that the coming summer could be the worst fire season on record but that is the harsh reality of life in this country at the moment.
Conditions look so bad this year that the official start of bushfire season across the Central West has been brought forward to September 1, the first day of spring.
Unusually dry conditions across winter have left the landscape parched and firefighters dreading every spark.
Those warnings continue what seems to have been the trend in recent years.
Bushfires are igniting more regularly than in decades gone by and their intensity seems greater. The bushfire season now stretches beyond the three months of summer, starting much earlier and running much later.
The good news, though, is that advances in technology and science have us better prepared than ever to fight these fires.
In the nine years since the tragic Black Saturday in Victoria, the death toll from bushfires in Australia has dropped dramatically as we continue to heed the lessons learned there.
We will never eliminate the danger completely and we will never get used to the heartbreak that comes with losing homes and crops to a bushfire.
But we will continue to get better at fighting fires. We will have to.