THE northern burning program has officially begun in Western Australia's Kimberley region, with 38 prescribed burns planned for the area.The burns are aimed at reducing the impact of devastating bushfires that occur late in the dry season by reducing fuel loads near road sides and on pastoral land.
Prescribed burns are being conducted east of Fitzroy Crossing and progressing towards Halls Creek, as well as on pastoral stations that may produce smoke visible on the Great Northern Highway.
Fire and Emergency Services Authority acting regional director Grant Pipe said prescribed burning was vital to help protect life, livestock and the unique Kimberley ecosystem.
"The fire breaks that are created lessen the impact of bushfires on local communities, infrastructure and the environment," he said.
"By carrying out aerial controlled burning now, fuel loads are reduced and a buffer is provided that prevents fires from spreading.
"It can also provide a suitable area from which firefighters and pastoralists can fight an uncontrolled fire."
Mr Pipe said tourists and motorists should be careful when travelling through affected areas.
"If you come across smoke on the road you should turn your headlights on and drive slowly," he said.
"Remember that if you cannot see clearly, pull over to the side of the road, keep your headlights and hazard lights on, and wait until the smoke clears."