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Experts predict severe bushfire season

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Most of Australia’s east coast will experience above-normal fire risk this summer, as the region continues to suffer drought.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre has released its outlook for southern Australia, and NSW is of particular concern.

“Widespread significant soil moisture deficit has resulted in an early start to the fire danger period for many local government areas in NSW,” it says.

“With the short to medium-range climate outlooks favouring warmer and drier than average conditions across much of the state, there is significant concern for the potential of an above-normal fire season in forested areas on and east of the divide.”

In Victoria two years of record low rainfall in East Gippsland has left forests “significantly more flammable than normal”.

“Unusually early bushfire activity occurred in East Gippsland during July and August, highlighting the severe level of dryness in forests,” the report says. “These dry conditions are likely to be exacerbated during spring and summer, with the climate outlook for drier and warmer conditions.”

Elevated risk is also predicted across the ACT, the east coast of Tasmania, southeast Queensland and parts of WA and SA.