News

Benalla’s fire-danger period begins October 28

By Benalla Ensign

Benalla's fire-danger period will begin at 1am on Monday, October 28, and the CFA is asking the public to ensure they know what they can and cannot do.

The fire-danger period is also starting in the following areas of north-east Victoria:

The fire-danger period will end in all six municipalities and the resort management board area on May 1 - unless otherwise stated.

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.

Across the rest of Victoria, normal bushfire activity is expected, but the CFA reminds Victorians that even an average fire season in the state can be a bad one.

CFA District 22 operations manager Tony Owen said low-winter rainfall across the Goulburn means 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,” Mr Owen 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 grassfire 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 had 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,” Mr Ebbels said.

“This is indicative of how dry the soils and vegetation are.

“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 fire-danger period came into effect, CFA had a zero-tolerance approach to any fires that had started from negligent behaviour.

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

CFA does issue permits for a certain situations during the fire-danger period. There are strict conditions attached to these permits and the liability sits with the permit holder to ensure they always act safely.

During the fire-danger period fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer.

fire-danger periods 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

Please note that the latest restrictions will be published on this page the Tuesday before they come into force.