The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Southern Australia released in late August identified potential for above normal bushfire activity across the coastal and foothill forests of East Gippsland, and there’s also a growing risk north of the divide extending into south east New South Wales.
A warm and dry outlook also carries some risk that ash forests in the central highlands and Otways may dry out faster and become more flammable than normal during summer. Across the rest of Victoria, normal bushfire activity is expected, but CFA reminds Victorians that even an average fire season in the state can be a bad one.
CFA District 24 Operations Manager Adrian Gutsche said three years of low winter rainfall across Wodonga and the surrounding areas of North East Victoria meant the bush was very dry.
“The fire potential is further increased by Bureau of Meteorology forecasts that the next three months will be drier and warmer than average,” he said.
“Any rainfall we do experience in spring can produce additional grass growth, which could very easily become a high fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed.
“The current ‘green’ appearance of the surrounding grasslands could lead the community to believe they have ample time to prepare, but with the below average rainfall this will mean that grassland will change quickly.
“Simply reducing fuel loads will ensure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading.”
Mr Gutsche said that while CFA and its partner agencies Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management, DELWP and Emergency Management Victoria were doing everything possible to prepare for the bushfire season, but also looked to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.
He said there was still a window of opportunity to clean up your property if you haven’t already done so.
“Now and over the coming month is the time to be preparing for bushfire season”
“People need to be aware that if using fire to clean up around their properties they need to register these on 1800 668 511. So far this year, out-of-control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have already caused unnecessary call-outs to for brigades,” he said.
“You should not burn off when winds are high or high winds are forecast – not only on the day of your burn but for the days afterwards.