Private fires a leading cause of bushfire: new data

More than a quarter (27%) of bushfires* are caused by escaped private fires, equating to more than 6,100 bushfires over the past 10 bushfire seasons that should never have happened, new CFA data shows.

Private fires a leading cause of bushfire: new data

With covid-19 restrictions easing and many people travelling this weekend, CFA is urging Victorians to take care with open fires such as campfires and private burn-offs.

CFA data shows that of bushfires caused by escaped private fires that our brigades responded to between 1 November and 31 March over the past 10 yea

  • 13% were caused by previous fires re-kindling after not being properly extinguished.
  • 6% were caused by inadequately controlled fires.
  • 4% were caused by high wind.
  • 3% escaped after being left unattended.

CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said it was a timely warning to Victorians to take the utmost care when undertaking burn-offs or enjoying campfires and other recreational fires

“We are expecting to see significant movement across the state this weekend as Victorians travel to catch up with loved ones, visit holiday properties, go camping and enjoy the great outdoors.

“Unfortunately, many bushfires start from escaped campfires and recreational fires. It’s vital to know how to properly light and maintain a campfire to make sure it doesn’t go bush,” Acting Chief Officer Cook said.

“Before lighting a fire, check fire restrictions and weather conditions – not only the day of your fire but in the following days when a badly extinguished fire can flare up in hot and windy weather.”

Victorians were reminded to never leave a fire unattended, even for a short while, as campfires can spread quickly without supervision.

Campers should extinguish their fire using water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil for several days and reignite under the right conditions. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave.

Burn-offs as part of property preparations are also significant risk when not done safely.

“With the warm, windy weather last week, CFA crews responded to several escaped private burn-offs across the state,” Acting Chief Officer Cook said.

“We urge people to exercise extreme caution when cleaning up properties using private burn-offs and encourage people to visit our website for tips on how to safely do that.

“It includes advice such as always checking fire restrictions with your local council and registering your burn on 1800 668 511, to check and monitor weather conditions, and having sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.”

/CFA News Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.