Residents should prepare for severe fires this summer, mayor Carol Sparks warns

Mayor Carol Sparks expects more dangerous fires to follow this summer, like those that devastated Wytaliba, Torrington, and other villages last month.

"We're going to go through the hottest summer that maybe some of us have ever had," she said. "A lot of the trees in town are dying. That worries me because if we start getting high temperatures, high winds, and it's not raining, then the towns and villages will be vulnerable to fire."

Trees and leaves have dried in the drought, and could easily go up in flames; so, too, could the region's wooden houses.

"That's what climate change is," the mayor said. "It's here; we have to deal with it, and we have to expect those days."

Cr Sparks urged the public to prepare their homes. Rake around houses; get rid of dead trees; and clean out your gutters. Make sure you have water hoses around your house, and that you have gloves, masks, good sturdy boots, and rakes.

The public should also have an evacuation plan. Pack a bag with your wallet, change of clothes, and any documents that you need like a passport. Put any special paperwork and photos in a safe place like the bank. If you're travelling in fire conditions, let friends and family know where you are.

Further down the track, the mayor wants council to look at housing sustainability and how to protect towns and villages from the ravages of fire, heat, and other events - "terrible events that might occur with these changing weather conditions".

A sustainable house would be built of fire-resistant materials such as rock, steel, or slate, as new development applications require.

Wytaliba residents, Cr Sparks said, are already looking at alternative materials to rebuild their homes.

"We're all vulnerable in these big old wooden houses," Cr Sparks said. "In the 1980s, when Wytaliba first became a multiple occupancy, people came there and built out of cheap timber. And now most of those have been burned, so it's like starting again, and looking at the future and how we're going to deal with it."