News

Moira fire danger period to begin in a fortnight

By Cobram Courier

Following low winter rainfall and dry conditions, the looming fire danger period for the Moira Shire starts at the end of the month.

According to the CFA's website, this summer’s fire danger period — described as a period when the CFA restricts the use of fire in the community — starts at 1 am on October 28 for Moira Shire.

It is set to finish on May 1 next year, unless otherwise stated by the CFA.

This has spurred the authority to urge residents to ‘‘clean up their property if they haven’t already done so’’ in preparation for the fire danger period starting.

Greater Shepparton, Benalla and Strathbogie shires all start at the same time.

According to the CFA, 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 the risk that ash forests in the central highlands and Otways may dry out faster and become more flammable than normal during summer.

It also stated across the rest of Victoria, normal bushfire activity was expected, but CFA reminded Victorians that even an average fire season could be a bad one.

CFA District 22 operations manager Tony Owen said low winter rainfall across the Goulburn meant the grass and bush were 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.

‘‘What little rain we have had has given good grass growth on roadsides and unmanaged areas, so we have good fuels in place with the potential of a busy grass fire season, couple that with very dry bush areas and we are looking at a very busy and hazardous fire season for firefighters and our emergency management partners.”

District 23 operations commander and fire investigator Trevor Ebbels said below average autumn and winter rainfall has also significantly impacted forested areas.

‘‘We’ve had a couple of instances where fires have commenced to run in locations where there had been snow cover for a couple of months. This is indicative of how dry the soils and vegetation are,’’ he said.

‘‘While CFA and its partner agencies Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management, DELWP and Emergency Management Victoria are doing everything we can to prepare for the bushfire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”

Mr Owen and Mr Ebbels urged north-east residents to use the short window of opportunity to clean up their property if they had not already done so.

‘‘Act now. Help mitigate the risk of fire in our community; reducing fuel loads now will ensure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading,’’ Mr Owen said.

‘‘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.

‘‘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.

‘‘For information about burn off restrictions specific to your area, consult your local council.’’

Mr Ebbels said that once the FDP comes into effect, CFA has a zero-tolerance approach to any fires that have started from negligent behaviour.

‘‘Expect any fire you start to be fully investigated by CFA and Victoria Police,” he said.

During the FDP, fires could not be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a municipal fire prevention officer.

FDPs are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.

? Fire Danger Period information and restrictions are published at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/restrictions-during-the-fire-danger-period The latest restrictions will be published on this page the Tuesday before coming into force.

? Victorians can find out “Can I or Can’t I?” information at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can or by calling VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226. All burn offs should be registered with the VicFire Burn-off notification line on 1800 668 511.