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Don’t risk the holiday from hell
CFA is urging holiday home owners to ensure their properties are fire safe, after a Melbourne couple made a lucky escape from their burning house in the state’s north-east earlier this month.
The man and woman – who built the weatherboard home in Howes Creek, near Mansfield, more than 40 years ago – were woken by the heat and glow of flames before managing to safely escape.
CFA District 23 Operations Officer Paul Horton said it was remarkable the couple survived without the alert of a working smoke alarm.
“This could easily have been a very tragic outcome,” Mr Horton said.
“Smoke alarms save lives by providing a critical early warning that can give you time to evacuate safely – but only if they work.
“Like many holiday homes in the area this one was fairly remote, at the end of a very long and windy driveway, adding a degree of difficulty for emergency services to access.
“Unfortunately by the time the nearest brigade arrived, the house was well alight and had partially collapsed.”
CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone said owners of properties without a working smoke alarm are not only risking a penalty, but are also the lives of those who stay there.
“Last year firefighters attended more than 1,650 house fires, tragically resulting in 16 preventable deaths,” Mr Buffone said.
“Just because holiday homes are only used for a few weeks or months of the year, it doesn’t make them any less important to look after or to keep fire safe.
“On Thursday we’ll see a spike in the fire danger across the north and north-west of the state.
“This should serve as a timely reminder that we’re moving into the summer fire season. Now is the time to get prepared.
“By their nature, holiday houses are often located in areas with a different fire risk to metropolitan and suburban Melbourne. Forests, grassland, coastlines and hills - these all pose unique risks that holiday makers should be aware of.”
Tips for holiday home owners:
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed
- Test and replace smoke alarm batteries regularly
- Ensure your property can be accessed by emergency services
- Clear leaf litter from gutters and the roof, and cut back overhanging branches
- Keep grass cut short – preferably less than 10cm
- Prune shrubs away from the lower branches of mature trees
Visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare for further information on how to best prepare your home.