LOCAL landholders are sitting on a tinderbox and a repeat of this month's savage bushfires is "highly likely" unless urgent action is taken, authorities have warned.
Two solid seasons of growth and a string of hot, dry days has created perfect conditions for fire, with more than 2000 hectares of property devastated by 13 separate fires in the Carrathool shire just last week.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) mid-west team manager Jason Wall said farmers whose properties didn't have fire breaks were courting disaster.
"It is so dry out there and there are exceptional fuel loads on the ground, all it would take is a lightning strike to spark it all up again," Mr Wall said.
"We haven't had any decent rain for five months and until we do, we are in a highly vulnerable position, potentially the most vulnerable in decades.
"Landholders just can't relax until we see some heavy rains."
Hillston dry area farmer Kent Burgess is one landholder relieved he installed firebreaks on his property.
On Sunday, January 6, a lightning strike on his farm sparked a fire that ravaged 15 hectares.
"It burned right to the edge of the firebreak and who knows what would have happened if it wasn't there," Mr Burgess said.
"It grabbed hold in our most susceptible area where it wasn't grazed or cropped and there was a lot of dry grass and trees.
"The whole area is as vulnerable as its been for a long time and anytime a thunderstorm hits, there will be an ignition source."
Mr Burgess paid tribute to the quick actions of RFS crews that almost certainly saved his property from further destruction.
The threat to towns was reinforced this week, with close to 50 homes being lost to a bushfire in the north-western NSW town of Coonabarabran.