Following a long and challenging fire season that saw more than 1.5 million hectares burnt across the state, all significant fires in Victoria have now been contained. The Snowy Complex fire was declared contained yesterday, 27 February 2020.
For 98 days, firefighters, including staff and volunteers, from Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and CFA and all emergency management personnel have been working hard to manage more than 3500 fires that have burned across the state since 21 November 2019.
More than 1,200 FFMVic staff, thousands of CFA staff and volunteers, more than 450 contractors, 408 international fire fighters from the US, Canada and NZ have been deployed this season supported by the Australian Defence force and defence forces from Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
“The hard work, professionalism and dedication of the FFMVic teams and the whole of the emergency services this fire season has been outstanding,” says FFMVic Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman.
“They have suffered the loss of colleagues and spent considerable time away from families to help protect the state. I am proud of the work that has been done and that these fires are now contained, and I thank them for their commitment.
“While Victoria remains in the Fire Danger Period, our FFMVic teams are now working towards recovery and preparedness.”
CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington agreed it was a relief to see the final significant campaign fire contained after several months of fire activity.
“I am extremely proud, not just of the amazing work by thousands of CFA firefighters and support members, but of the entire emergency services sector as well as the community, which has pulled together to support one another.” he said.
“Now, I want them to be aware that despite recent milder conditions, parts of Victoria are still very dry and in warm and windy conditions, Victorians are still at risk of bushfire and fast-running scrub and grass fires and fire restrictions remain in place across all municipalities. Stay alert and keep informed.”
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said this was a great result for firefighters and all emergency management personnel who played a part in managing the fires and keeping communities safe.
“This is a testament to the commitment, bravery, innovation and determination of our people and I am proud of what was achieved under very challenging circumstances,” he said.
“My thoughts are with the communities impacted by the fires and we will continue to do all we can to support you through the long tail of recovery.”
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Meteorology said “In terms of the weather conditions before and during the fires, spring and early summer rainfall was very much below average across much of Victoria.
“Parts of East Gippsland recorded its lowest rainfall on record for this period, contributing to extremely dry forest fuels. Lightning strikes from several thunderstorm events in December initiated numerous fires, many in difficult and remote terrain about the northeast and eastern parts of the Dividing Range.
Fortunately, the weather became humid and rainfall totals between 50-100mm fell across the fire grounds during February.”
The outlook for March favours wetter than average conditions across Victoria (apart from central and eastern parts of Gippsland which have no significant likelihood of either wetter or drier conditions), and maximum temperatures will tend towards average across most of the state.