The heightened risk posed by grass growth from recent rains has prompted major NSW shire councils near of Canberra to start their official bushfire season on Tuesday, weeks ahead of the customary start date.
The Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven and Bega Valley are among the 21 NSW local government areas which are moving to an early bushfire season as a result of local conditions. It brings to 27 the number of NSW local government areas which will have started their seasons early.
The statutory bushfire danger period in NSW usually starts on October 1 each year, but is adjusted based on local conditions.
NSW Commissioner Rob Rogers said that increased grass growth due to recent rain "could prove problematic over coming weeks and months, particularly in these areas starting their danger period".
"Land holders and firefighters have reported increased grass growth, particularly west of the divide," he said.
"Once dry and cured this will bring an unwelcome threat of grass fires."
The Eurobodalla shire was badly affected by bushfires during the awful 2019-20 season, with over 80 per cent of its landmass burnt, including 90 per cent of national parks and state forests, according to a report submitted to the Senate bushfires inquiry.
There were over 380 homes lost to bushfires in the shire, with 88 lost in the Bega Valley.
Major arterial roads were closed, including the Kings Highway between Canberra and the NSW South Coast for four weeks from December 15.
Anyone wishing to light a fire during a bushfire danger period must obtain a permit from their local fire authority.
"Permits, which are free to obtain, ensure that fire is used safely and to minimise the danger to landholders, their property and the community," Commissioner Rogers said.
"While hazard reductions burns are an important part of preparations, landholders need to be extremely careful.
"Never leave a fire unattended and if a fire does escape, make sure you call triple zero (000) immediately so that emergency services can respond and minimise the damage."
Commissioner Rogers also urged homeowners in the affected areas to prepare for the season ahead by talking to their neighbours, updating bushfire survival plans "and have the conversation with your family about what you will do during a fire - including where you'll go, what you'll take and what you'll do with animals".