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Mid West emergency services on high alert ahead of Christmas scorcher

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
DFES says it is on high alert for bushfires this weekend.
Camera IconDFES says it is on high alert for bushfires this weekend. Credit: DFES Incident Photographer Sean/DFES incident photographer Sean Blocksidge.

Emergency services are urging Mid West residents to be on the lookout for bushfire warnings and stick to total fire bans this weekend as the region experiences a dangerous combination of extreme heat and dry conditions.

At the time of print the Bureau of Meteorology expected Geraldton to reach a maximum of 44C on Saturday and 43C on Sunday in what could be one of the warmest Christmas periods of the last 100 years.

Total fire bans were place for large swathes of the Mid West on Thursday including Carnamah, Chapman Valley, Coorow, Northampton, Perenjori and Greater Geraldton.

Department of Fire Emergency Services Mid West Gascoyne Supt Craig Smith expected fire bans to remain in place past the weekend.

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“We are asking residents to be vigilant so if they see anything to ring triple-0 and report it so we can get some people there quickly to make sure a small fire doesn’t escalate into a big fire,” he said.

“It’s paramount that people are very mindful and don’t light any fires in the open and be careless to do things that might cause a fire.”

DFES has boosted crew numbers in Geraldton for Christmas Day.
Camera IconDFES has boosted crew numbers in Geraldton for Christmas Day. Credit: DFES incident photographer Sean Blocksidge./DFES Incident Photographer Sean

During a total fire ban it is illegal to start an open fire for cooking or camping, and hot work such as grinding or welding isn’t allowed in the open air.

Four-wheel-driving, quad biking and motor biking is also banned except for agricultural purposes if certain conditions are met.

Breaching the ban can lead to a $25,000 fine or 12 months prison.

Mr Smith said DFES was on high alert for the weekend and had boosted crew numbers at Geraldton Fire Station.

“A lot of our staff won’t be able to sit down and enjoy their Christmas because they will be working,” he said.

“But that’s what we are doing to protect the community to make sure we have people available to readily respond to any incidents.

“If the community is careful and we don’t have any of those incidents then our staff can also enjoy their Christmas Day.”

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