Tweed firies see red over illegal burning

TWEED'S rural firefighters couldn't believe that locals would even consider lighting fires without permits while the worst bushfire crisis in Australia's history was crippling Victoria.

Far North Coast Rural Fire Service (RFS) manager superintendent David Cook said his crews were called to a number of Tweed Coast properties at the weekend where residents were burning off without permits.

Scores of bushfires, meanwhile, blazed out of control across Victoria, killing more than 100 people and destroying hundreds of homes.

Supt Cook yesterday said it only took a moment for fires to get out of control - as the Victorian bushfires have demonstrated.

“While 99.9 per cent of people are doing the right thing, we have had some people burning off without notification and people lighting fires without permits or adequate supervision,” he said.

“It is a good time to remind people and to let them know it is difficult for us when our crews are tied up with that and there could be a real emergency. We just want to get the message out there.”

Tweed's RFS firefighters remained on standby yesterday as fires blazed out of control across Victoria and in southern NSW.

Supt Cook said they could be called on to help. “It's pretty bad down there and it's getting worse,” he said.

“We've got crews on immediate standby if needed. The weather conditions have improved slightly so we are just waiting on an update.”

The RFS has already issued several reminders to the public about the need for fire permits, which can be obtained for free at local fire stations.

Supt Cook said the penalty for lighting fires without a permit started at $550.

“Failure to notify is another $550 and if the fire escapes onto someone else's property you can receive fines of up to $10,000,” he said.

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