One in 10 grass, scrub, and bushfires are caused by escaped private fires, equating to more than 2000 fires over the past 10 bushfire seasons that should never have happened, new CFA data shows.
While summer is officially over and fire restrictions have ended in several parts of Victoria, CFA warned higher-risk days could still occur well into autumn and urged Victorians to take care with open fires such as campfires and other private fires.
CFA data shows that of vegetation fires caused by escaped private fires that our brigades
responded to between 1 November and 31 March over the past 10 years:
- 6.3% were caused by inadequately controlled fires.
- 3.3% escaped after being left unattended.
Another large proportion of fires were caused by previous fires re-kindling after not being properly extinguished (13.9%) and by high wind (4.1%).
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said it was a timely warning to Victorians to take the utmost care if undertaking burn-offs in areas where the Fire Danger Period has ended or enjoying campfires and other recreational fires.
“Unfortunately, many vegetation fires start from escaped campfires and recreational fires. It’s vital to know how to properly light and maintain a campfire to make sure it doesn’t go bush,” he said.
“Before lighting a fire, check fire restrictions and weather conditions – not only the day of your fire but in the following days when a badly extinguished fire can flare up in warm and windy weather.”
Victorians were reminded to never leave a fire unattended, even for a short while, as campfires can spread quickly without supervision.
Campers should extinguish their fire using water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil for several days and reignite under the right conditions. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave.
With majority of fire restrictions winding up across the state next week, some residents may
undertake burn-offs as part of property maintenance, but Chief Officer Heffernan said these can also be a significant risk when not done safely.
“We continue to have warm and dry weather across some parts of the state.
“These weather conditions have seen CFA crews responding to several escaped private burn-offs over the past few weeks,” Chief Officer Heffernan said.
“We urge people to exercise extreme caution when cleaning up properties using private burn-offs and encourage people to visit our website for tips on how to safely do that.
“It includes advice such as always checking fire restrictions with your local council and registering your burn on 1800 668 511, to check and monitor weather conditions, and having sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.”