News & Media

Preparing for severe fire conditions

By: CFA Media

Category: Community Safety, Incidents - Bushfire

  12.25 PM 5 February, 2013

Location: General

Views: 3429

Fire authorities are bracing for a prolonged period of heightened fire danger across the state in the coming days, with crews and aircraft, including the four major helicopters, already bolstered at the Aberfeldy and Harrietville fires. 

Resources from around Victoria have been brought into help fight the fires in anticipation of increased fire activity due to warmer, drier weather forecast until Sunday.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said a Severe Fire Danger Rating was forecast in the South West and North Central weather districts and Very High rating elsewhere, with hot, dry and windy conditions.

“In this type of weather, if a fire starts and takes hold, it may be uncontrollable,” Mr Lapsley said.

“For residents in areas where the fires are still going, if your plan is to leave, you should do it sooner rather than later.”

The latest Bureau of Meteorology data shows rainfall across the state over the past month, including in the Central weather district encompassing Melbourne, was well below average.

“The lack of rain has completely dried most areas of grassland and bush across Victoria,” Mr Lapsley said.

“This combined with heavy fuel-loads caused by rains and flooding across the state over the past couple of years means we are faced with a serious fire risk.

“Traditionally, we know that February is a bad month for fires. While we had a reprieve from the heat last week, it will only take a few days of hot weather, like we have coming up this week, to be faced with Severe or Extreme fire danger again.”

Crews at both the Aberfeldy and Harrietville fires have been focussing on back burning, putting out hot spots, and consolidating control lines in preparation for the coming days.

Hundreds of DSE and CFA firefighters, supported by machinery, firefighting vehicles and aircraft have been working around the clock to prepare for the expected severe fire weather.


At the Harrietville fire, back burns have been completed over the past few days to the south of Harrietville to provide greater protection to the town, and another one north west of Mt Hotham to limit the potential spread of the fire, and assist the protection of communities and other assets at Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain.

Firefighters at the Aberfeldy fire have built 300kilometres of control lines and have been conducting back-burning operations along the Heyfield-Licola Road and other areas in preparation.

The Harrietville fire has burnt around 6500 hectares and the Aberfeldy fire almost 75,000 hectares.

Last Updated: 05 February 2013