Fire authorities urge public to help prevent campfire catastrophes

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The Conservation Regulator, Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management Victoria, and the County Fire Authority are banding together to warn Victorians about the risks of unsafe campfires and barbeques as tens-of-thousands of people prepare to take a long weekend.

For those taking the opportunity to turn the public holiday into a long weekend of outdoor activities, vigilance around campfires and barbecues is crucial to decrease the risk of fires, whether at home or on public land.

With plenty of grass growth on public and private land in recent months, unattended campfires and barbecues could quickly escape and spark bushfires. Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria Authorised Officers, and Forest Fire Management Victoria crews will patrol campsites on public land to educate campers and enforce campfire rules to keep visitors and the environment safe.

Forest Fire Management Victoria crews have already responded to 96 unattended campfires on public land this summer, many of which escaped and caused larger fires.

Fire services are also warning those cranking up the barbecue at home to take care to avoid causing fires or burn injuries. CFA volunteer firefighters responded to almost 200 barbecue and other outside cooking equipment-related fires across the state last financial year.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said conditions have been heating up in recent weeks which has dried vegetation out considerably.

“I urge all Victorians ahead of this weekend to check the Fire Danger Ratings and to heed our warnings before heading out and about,” he said.

Visitors to public land are responsible for checking fire danger ratings and weather conditions before lighting a campfire or barbecue, and for ensuring fires comply with safety rules. Wrongdoers on public land face on-the-spot fines of $555 or a maximum penalty of $18,174 if the matter is prosecuted in court.

The maximum penalty for lighting or maintaining a fire during a Total Fire Ban is $43,617 and/or two years in jail. Report unattended campfires to 136 186 or call 000 to report a bushfire.

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