Hundreds of Victorians are continuing to undertake private burn-offs as fire restrictions are now easing across the state.
CFA and partner agencies will be making the most of cooler autumn conditions to conduct fuel reduction burns to lower bushfire risk for communities, while farmers and private landholders will also take the opportunity to ignite stubble burns on their properties.
Combined with weather conditions that will prevent smoke from dispersing into the upper atmosphere, it’s predicted that smoke may hang over the city and parts of Victoria throughout these periods.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said although CFA and Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) work closely with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Bureau of Meteorology to keep smoke impact as low as practically possible, smoke in our regional and rural areas can come from a number of sources.
“Along with the important planned burns that are conducted in our forests, parks and reserves led by FFMV and the many kilometres of road, rail and grassland burns that are led by CFA, this time of year also sees a large amount of smoke coming from the necessary burn-offs that our farmers and rural property holders complete,” he said.
“These are part of traditional farming practices where burning off crop stubble is often needed to kill weeds and return nutrients and carbon back into the soil.”
As the weather cools, smoke will also come from the many thousands of wood heaters households rely on for their autumn and winter heat source. Smoke from wood heaters will often settle in the local area from where they are burning.
“This localised smoke or smoke haze can often be misinterpreted as coming from planned burns from a long way away, but this is not always the case,” he said.
“As the weather conditions continue to become favourable for lower intensity burning, we will look to conduct the most suitable burns-offs to ensure that our dependant native bush and grasslands are benefitting and avoid much more devastating high intensity bushfires.
“We rely on all Victorians to spread the message and continue to support us in the delivery of our burning programs.”
Although fire restrictions are coming to an end, Victorians are urged to continue registering their burn-offs so that if someone reports smoke to Triple Zero, the incident will be cross-checked with the burn-off register.
For the latest information about when and where planned burns are occurring near you, residents are encouraged to sign up to Planned Burns Victoria and download the App.
If you see smoke and want to know if it is a planned burn or a fire, visit emergency.vic.gov.au, check the VicEmergency App or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.
Visit EPA AirWatch for information about current air quality throughout Victoria. Tips for looking after your health when there is smoke can also be found on EPA’s website.
Keep your burn off safe and legal:
- Check fire restrictions in your area and always register your burn or call 1800 668 511
- Check and monitor weather conditions – particularly wind
- To avoid unnecessary calls to emergency services, notify your neighbours beforehand
- Leave a three-metre fire break, free from flammable materials around the burn
- Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading
- Never leave a burn-off unattended – stay for its entire duration
- If your burn-off gets out of control, call ‘000’ immediately.