Firefighters are bracing for a hectic bushfire season, with conditions in the southern half of WA already tinder-dry before the start of summer, prompting a timely reminder to get ready. Ahead of a severe heatwave in Perth this week, Department of Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Darren Klemm said on Monday that soil dryness indicators in the bulk of the vast area were “far advanced” compared to previous years. “We’re talking way ahead of what is normally the five-year average,” Mr Klemm said. “So all the way from from Esperance through to Pearce and Bickley and then up into Jurien Bay and the Mid West, we know that that the landscape is about six to seven weeks ahead of where it would be normally.” Since early October, 376 large bushfires have burnt more than 4.2 million hectares across the State, while 11 emergency warnings have been issued for blazes that threatened lives and homes. Earlier in November, a Piara Waters playground was destroyed by a fire accidentally caused by children with matches, while a lightning-sparked fire in Serpentine promoted DFES to bring online its aerial support fleet early. There were also multiple fires at Kings Park allegedly deliberately lit by Ross Cameron Males, who also could also be charged over a blaze at Bold Park in Floreat two days earlier. “We might think our local bushland or park is safe but it takes one stupid individual to put a match to things and then everything goes up,” Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said, adding that about 700 fires over the past year were arson. WA’s large air tanker for the summer — on loan through a national resource-sharing scheme — will arrive next week, while a NSW waterbomber is still being repaired after being knocked on its side by a gust of wind. “If the weather gets bad later in the week, if we see some big fires where we do need to see a large air tanker used again, we’re already in conversation with other State jurisdictions and indeed our international partners about bringing another one here,” Mr Dawson said. It is the second blow for Coulson Aviation in WA in 2023, with the company losing one of its Boeing 737 waterbombers in a crash in Fitzgerald National Park near Esperance. Th two pilots miraculously walked away. Mr Klemm said firefighters in the State’s north had been busy, with almost 10 per cent of the landmass of the Kimberley recently burnt. “We have been, over the last week-and-a-half to two weeks, dealing with a significant number of fires in the Pilbara as the heat builds up there,” he said. Combined with the dry south, authorities were “expecting a really difficult bushfire season this year”, he said. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services launched its annual bushfire safety campaign on Monday, urging the public to be prepared by using the ybushfireplan.wa.gov.au website or downloading the My Bushfire Plan app.