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Severe fire danger for Victoria

Wed 2 Jan 2013
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Fire authorities are on stand-by for severe fire danger over the coming days as high temperatures and dry conditions lift the Fire Danger Ratings across Victoria.

CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said the forecast weather for the next few days across the state would reach a peak on Friday with temperatures of up to 44 degrees in the north.

“We are looking at Fire Danger Ratings of ‘severe’ in most parts of the state on Friday with an ‘extreme’ rating in the south west. Gippsland will be the only part of the state that will be ‘very high’,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The grassland is 100 percent cured. The north, west and south west of Victoria are a concern where it has been dry for an extended period of time. Conditions are primed for fast moving grass fires.

“On a day like Friday, if a fire starts and initial attack is unsuccessful and the fire takes hold, it will be uncontrollable and fast moving. Spot fires will start that will move quickly.

“What this means is that people should consider leaving high risk bushfire areas early in the day as the safest option. People should also revisit their bushfire survival plans,” he said.

Fire authorities are concerned people are still not listening to warnings about having campfires and using machinery during hot, dry weather.

DSE Chief Fire Officer Alan Goodwin said over the Christmas period crews have attended almost 20 fires that were started by campfires. Yesterday an unattended campfire burnt three hectares at Cape Clear near Ballarat and the air crane Gypsy Lady was brought in to put the fire out,” Mr Goodwin said.

MFB Acting Chief Officer Peter Rau said people who normally reside in the metropolitan area but are on holidays elsewhere in the state, must understand that a grass or bushfire could impact their safety and it is vital to be aware of your local conditions.

“Even if you are in an urban area, you could still be impacted by fire. All Victorians must understand they are at risk from fire regardless of their location and check conditions by tuning into local radio stations and using the FireReady app” he said.

Mr Ferguson said there had also been a number of fires sparked by machinery in paddocks as harvesting continues or people conducting burn-offs on private land.

“We are asking people if they have conducted burn-offs in the past month to check it again before Friday to make sure it is extinguished properly. With a gust of strong wind, they can flare up and quickly turn into a fast moving fire.

“If you are conducting farm work such as harvesting, make sure you always carry an extinguisher or knapsack and where possible, complete the work early in the morning.” he said.

The Department of Health warns all Victorians that the forecast heatwave conditions this Friday can cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke -- which can be fatal.

The most important things to remember are to:

  • keep cool
  • drink plenty of water
  • stay out of the sun
  • and look after yourself and others -- especially the elderly and very young.

CFA Media Contact: 5330 3124 or DSE Media Contact: 1300 134 444

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