Hot weekend brings elevated fire risk, fire agencies warn

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With temperatures set to soar over the New Year’s Eve long weekend, Victorian fire agencies are warning people living in or travelling to regional areas to monitor fire conditions.

 

Victorians are urged to keep an eye on Fire Danger Ratings, which currently forecast Very High ratings across much of the state throughout the long weekend.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts severe heat wave conditions across the entire state from today until Saturday, with the heatwave conditions remaining in some areas until Monday.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said with temperatures expected to reach high 30s in many areas, combined with hot and dry winds, Victorians had to be prepared for fire.

“A wet winter and spring is now behind us, and December has been very dry in large parts of Victoria,” he said.

“On hot, dry and windy days like the ones we are expecting this weekend, anyone in regional areas of Victoria, and even on the metropolitan fringe, needs to stay alert to conditions, make sure they have downloaded the VicEmergency app and stay informed.

“For anyone planning to travel this weekend, it’s really important to make sure you know which fire weather district you will be in and travel through.

“You also need to look at the Fire Danger Ratings daily and if the Fire Danger Rating is Severe, reconsider your need to travel. Don’t travel to areas with an Extreme or Code Red Fire Danger Rating.”

Acting Fire Rescue Commissioner Gavin Freeman said grassfires posed a particular risk this summer after a wet spring resulted in significant grass and scrub growth.

“Grassfires can move at speeds of up to 25km per hour and jump highways,” Acting Commissioner Freeman said.

“Avoid any fires along your planned route by setting up ‘watch zones’ in the VicEmergency app before you leave, to receive updates about any nearby incidents.”

With many Victorians camping or visiting national parks this long weekend, Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman also urged campers to be mindful of conditions and take care.

“It’s crucial the community works with us to prevent bushfires from starting and pays attention to campfire safety – unattended campfires can spread quickly and have devastating impacts on communities and the environment," he said.

“Visitors to Victoria’s parks and state forests should be aware of all exit routes and any evacuation points.”

Unattended campfires should be reported to 136 186, bushfires should be reported to 000. On days of a Total Fire Ban, campfires are not allowed and should be reported to 000.

Safety tips:

  • For travel safety tips, visit: cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/staying-safe-when-you-travel
  • Check the Fire Danger Rating by visiting www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/total-fire-bans-and-ratings
  • Download the VicEmergency app for real-time updates about emergencies across Victoria.
  • Don’t travel to areas with an ‘Extreme’ or ‘Code Red’ Fire Danger Rating.
  • Victorians should also make sure they have access to more than one source of information in the event of an emergency, including:
    • ABC local radio, commercial and designated community radio stations, or Sky News
    • The VicEmergency App
    • The VicEmergency website www.emergency.vic.gov.au
  • The VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226
  • Victorians can find out “Can I or Can’t I?” information at cfa.vic.gov.au/can or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226. All burn-offs should be registered online at firepermits.vic.gov.au or with the VicFire Burn-off notification line on 1800 668 511.
  • CFA has a free, publicly available Bushfire Safety for Workers e-learning module on how to stay safe if faced with a fire.
  • Farmers currently harvesting asked to follow a voluntary harvesting guide to cease harvesting at a suggested trigger.
  • Don’t light a campfire on a Total Fire Ban Day or on other hot, dry and windy days.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended – stay within 50m and in sight 
  • Campfires must be extinguished with water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave. 

Visit the fire agencies’ respective websites at cfa.vic.gov.au, frv.vic.gov.au and ffm.vic.gov.au for more fire safety information.

 

Submitted by CFA Media