Narrowing fire window blankets city in smoke


Perth blanketed in smoke as weather expert warns of worsening climate conditions. Photo: Tex Reeks.

Authorities are being forced to carry out prescribed burning in poor weather conditions, causing smoke problems across Perth.

Former Bureau of Meteorology expert Neil Bennett says the window of opportunity to conduct hazard reduction burning has reduced as Perth receives more hot, dry and windy days.

“The fire window is becoming tighter due to climate change,” Mr Bennett said.

“Ten to 15-years ago, we didn’t have to deal with the smoke haze.”

Perth has been blanketed in smoke several times since the start of Autumn.

Prescribed burning plays an important role in reducing bushfire hazard by reducing fuel loads, such as leaf litter.

WA’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions spokeswoman said the burns are well planned.

“Months of planning goes into each prescribed burn, but the final decision to carry out a burn is made the morning it is ignited to take advantage of the right weather conditions to carry out the burn safely and to meet the burn objectives,” the spokesperson said.

Authorities are forced to burn in the shoulder seasons because it is too hot in summer and too wet in winter.

“The Parks and Wildlife Service works with the Bureau of Meteorology and uses the best available information to minimise burning in conditions where smoke may impact populated areas,” the department spokeswoman said.

Mr Bennett said authorities used to wait longer and burn on days when the winds wouldn’t move smoke over the city.

“You can’t wait,” he said.

“You have to live with the smoke haze.”