UMVOTI has experienced its driest year in decades and with current dam levels at an all time low and if the current weather forecast models are anything to go by, we could be in for a very rough couple of months says Charles Haden, fire protection officer, Umvoti Fire Protection Association.Although conditions are extremely dry, grassland fuel loads are low. However, with the excessive leaf drop in the plantations it is for this reason that the potential for fire is high. Very few fires are as a result of natural causes, most are started by humans.The current fire season is upon us and land owners are busy with the preparation of firebreaks. The Umvoti Fire Protection Association appeals to the community to be extremely cautious and responsible when dealing with fire. Do not underestimate the capabilities of fire and the destruction it can cause. Please take note of the weather conditions at all times especially the approaching cold fronts. It is at this time that strong dry north-westerly winds, accompanied with high temperatures and low humidity, are experienced. These climatic conditions are extremely dangerous and are conducive to the spread of wild fires. Once the cold front has passed winds turn around to the south causing temperatures to drop, humidity increases and conditions improve.Fire danger is expressed in the form of a fire danger index commonly referred to as FDI. Data received from weather stations around the country, along with computer modules, assist the climatologists in calculating the FDI. There are five codes - blue – safe, green – moderate, yellow – dangerous, orange – very dangerous and red – extremely dangerous. Golf 911 has the latest FDI available at all times and can be contacted on 033 417 2911 or 076 402 7772.The district is under a computerised fire detection system and it is essential that all fires are reported to the Golf 911 centre where it will be logged to avoid unnecessary time investigating fires that have not been reported.Scientists have predicted that the El Niño cycle has come to an end and that we are moving into an Enso-neutral stage with a good chance of a La Niña cycle towards late spring into early summer, which will hopefully bring our area and country the rain that is so desperately needed.