News & Media

Hot weekend weather put Victorians to the test

By: CFA Media

Category: Community Safety, Incidents - Bushfire, Operational Information

  5.44 PM 21 December, 2015


Location: General

Views: 2279

The state experienced an extended period of extreme heat and fire danger over the weekend, with fire services responding to more than 600 incidents. 

***State Control Centre Media Release***

21 DECEMBER 2015

HOT WEEKEND WEATHER PUT VICTORIANS TO THE TEST

Emergency management agencies, the community and health services were put through their paces at the weekend as the state experienced an extended period of extreme heat and fire danger.

Over the weekend, fire services responded to more than 600 incidents, including major fires at Epping, Wandin, Wonthaggi, Scotsburn and Barnawartha.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, a total of 22 Emergency Warnings, 52 Watch and Acts and 97 Advice messages were issued, as well as 11 Community Updates to provide locally tailored information to affected residents.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said 13 houses had been lost in the Scotsburn and Barnawartha fires, as well as several sheds and outbuildings, sheep and horses.

“These are significant losses for affected communities. It’s not just a house or livestock – these are things which affect people’s livelihoods and everyday way of living.

“This is why it is so important we place just as much focus on fighting the fire as we do on assisting communities in the relief and recovery phase and a range of assistance is now available to people affected by the weekend fires.

“Fortunately over the weekend we didn’t lose any lives and as we head into another period of hot weather leading into Christmas, I would encourage Victorians to continue to heed fire safety advice and ensure they have prepared themselves, their families and their properties.”

Mr Lapsley said this extended to taking care of yourself and those vulnerable to heat. Heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster.

“From early last week temperatures in the north and western parts of Victoria were already up in the high 30s and as the week went on, the state continued to bake with temperatures rising into the 40s on the weekend,” he said.

“This places stress on people, particularly the elderly and the young and as we’re still in for months of hot weather it is important to continue to look after yourself in the heat.”

Summary of weekend activity:

  • Extra paramedics were on duty across the state, with paramedic health commanders at regional and incident control centres and relief centres. Paramedic strike teams were also sent to major fires.
  • On Sunday VICSES received more than 350 Requests for Assistance due to severe weather, primarily for trees blown down (including 140 in Melbourne).
  • The FireReady app had more than one million device registrations. On Saturday there were 41,000 downloads and watch zones set up, and 240,000 unique visitors to the app.
  • The community continue to play a key role in reporting suspicious fire behaviour.
  • Victoria Police worked closely with fire service incident controllers and VicRoads at the weekend in allowing people to access their properties as soon as it was safe to do so.
  • Unfortunately Ambulance Victoria and police reported there were a number of children left in cars, this continues to be a concern.
  • Over 3000 calls were made to the Victorian Bushfire Information Line and there were around 100,000 comments on official emergency management social media pages.
  • Department of Health and Human Services are coordinating relief and recovery services in fire affected areas. This includes accommodation and financial assistance.
  • Lifesaving  Victoria reported 119,00 people attended beaches and 46 rescues were performed.
  • Specialist strike teams and rapid impact assessment teams were sent to the Scotsburn and Barnawartha fires.

It is important to never rely on one source for emergency information and warnings. Stay Informed via emergency.vic.gov.au, tune to ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations, or Sky News TV. Call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667. Download the FireReady App or follow Vic Emergency or CFA on Twitter (#VicFires) or on Facebook.

For road closures: www.vicroads.vic.gov.au

For emergency relief and recovery information following the weekend fires: recovery.vic.gov.au

For information about staying safe in the heat see: betterhealth.vic.gov.au/heat or download the Better Health app or follow Better Health on Twitter or Facebook.

Last Updated: 22 December 2015