- The NSW RFS said there are no active fires in New South Wales for the first time since July 2019.
- It marked an end to more than 240 days of fire activity in the state.
- Victoria Emergency also said there are "no significant fires" burning in the state.
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There are no active fires in New South Wales.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) said on Twitter there are no active fires burning in New South Wales for the first time since July 2019.
For the first time since early July 2019, there is currently no active bush or grass fires in #NSW. That’s more than 240 days of fire activity for the state. #nswfires #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/NpjF3lAHKa
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 2, 2020
It comes after a devastating bushfire season in Australia between 2019 and the start of 2020. As at 13 February 2020, there were more than 11,200 bush and grassfires and more than 2400 homes destroyed as a result of them. The bushfire season also saw 5.4 million hectares of land burnt and millions of animals killed.
The recent rain in the eastern parts of Australia have provided some much needed relief.
Ben Shepherd, chief inspector of the NSW RFS told Business Insider Australia that the rain and efforts from firefighters have contributed to the fires dying down.
"It was the rain but what we were still dealing with [over the last few weeks], especially with those fires in the south of the state, is the number of hot spots on the edges of those fires," he said. Hotspots, he explained, are hot fire or coals inside burnt out trees or in the soil.
"We need to ensure that they're out before we finally determine a fire to be completely out," he said.
Flying overhead, Shepherd said firefighters picked up around 250 individual hotspots.
"We had to go into those areas with remote area firefighters and make sure they were completely extinguished," he said. "But on top of that, currently as we speak, there is now some reasonable rain falling on those fire grounds again. So that will further help them."
Shepherd highlighted that while "significant fire activity" in NSW is coming to an end, there will be smaller, new fires springing up, which is typical for this time of year. And firefighters will deal with them on a day to day basis.
Victoria has also experienced a quell in the extent of its bushfires. Victoria Emergency said on Twitter there are "no significant fires" burning across Victoria.
We have some great news.
After burning over 1.5 million hectares in Victoria this summer, there are no significant going fires across Victoria, with the Snowy complex fire declared contained.
Thank you to all agencies and volunteers over this period. #weworkasone #vicfires pic.twitter.com/5gKINDcnCS
— VicEmergency (@vicemergency) February 27, 2020
Despite the lesser fires, Victoria Emergency still warned Victorians to stay alert.
"Although fire conditions are benign this week in Victoria, due to the recent rain, grass has regrown so it's important to continue to prepare properties, review fire plans and to stay vigilant," Vic Emergency said on Twitter.
Victoria Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp warned there is still the potential for fire activity in Victoria "particularly fast-moving grass fires where it's still fairly dry in some parts of the state," he said in a video on Twitter.
What firefighters will focus on now
Shepherd said the focus for firefighters will shift from the fire fight to working out where to conduct hazard reduction burns – a process of preemtively protecting land before a fire approaches. This will happen after the rain, when the earth has dried.
"[We need to] quickly start doing some of that preventative work in areas that didn't burn this year ahead of next fire season," he said.
Shepherd said autumn is when the RFS completes most of its hazard reduction burns.
With the significant fires down, it presents a small break for firefighters.
"There's no doubt that many of these firefighters, especially on the south coast, will initially take a little bit of a break," Shepherd said. "They have been going for months and months.
"It'll also be our opportunity to take stock, do some internal reviews about how things actually worked and what we may need to take – [and] some lessons learned – into next fire season. But also ensuring that our people are well taken care of especially mentally given what they've been through this season."
As the severity of the fires has eased, the relief efforts for those affected goes on.
It comes after the Fire Fight Australia concert in Sydney – with performers including Queen, Alice Cooper and Baker Boy – which raised more than $9.5 million for those impacted by the bushfires.
The NSW Greens also introduced a bill calling for the funds from Celeste Barber's record-breaking fundraiser to be distributed to the NSW RFS as well as communities impacted by bushfires.