Illawarra fire ban declared ahead of hot and windy Wednesday

Love won’t be the only thing in the air across the Illawarra on Valentine’s Day, with the region set to sweat through a very warm Wednesday.

Rising temperatures, coupled with forecast windy weather, have forced the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) to declare a total fire ban for the Illawarra/Shoalhaven district on Wednesday. 

The ban means no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended. Gas and electric barbecues can be used, provided certain conditions are met. 

The mid-week fire danger rating in the Illawarra/Shoalhaven district – which covers the Kiama, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly and Wollongong council areas – is severe. 

University of Wollongong-led research, released by the NSW RFS and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre this week, revealed that while the majority of people understood the danger of fires at a highest danger level, many under-appreciate the risks to life and property on days that are not.

“People in bushfire prone areas need to understand that under these conditions [like Wednesday], fires can start easily and spread quickly, impacting on homes, properties and valuable assets,” RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

Wednesday’s forecast temperatures are 31 degrees in Wollongong and 34 at Albion Park.

The mercury should reach 35 degrees in Nowra.

SPLASH: Chrissie and Ryan Fitzpatrick with their children, Sophie (in water) and Zara, at Wollongong Harbour on Tuesday. Hot weather is forecast on Wednesday, with temperatures climbing to the low-to-mid 30s. Picture: Sylvia Liber

SPLASH: Chrissie and Ryan Fitzpatrick with their children, Sophie (in water) and Zara, at Wollongong Harbour on Tuesday. Hot weather is forecast on Wednesday, with temperatures climbing to the low-to-mid 30s. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said the landscape was “very susceptible to fire” and urged landholders, homeowners, businesses and travellers to “seriously consider how they could be impacted”.

“Use today [Tuesday] and tonight to have a discussion about what you will do if a fire starts near you, so everyone in your household knows your bush fire survival plan,” he said. 

“With many parents back at work and kids at school, people need to consider what to do if fire threatens when the family is separated.”

For more information about the rules associated with a total fire ban, visit: rfs.nsw.gov.au.

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