Fire danger period in force
The fire danger period for Moira Shire is now in force.
Fire restrictions now apply and residents cannot light a fire in the open air without a permit and burnoffs must comply with certain requirements.
During fire action week, Cobram Fire Brigade captain Adrian Hilder told the Courier the fire season would start earlier and be more intense.
The brigade was urging residents to prepare homes and make sure they were following local laws ahead of summer.
‘‘This summer is looking similar to 2009, we haven’t had any decent rain during winter meaning it’s drying out quickly,’’ Mr Hilder said.
Cobram Fire Brigade has started preseason training, including track work, burn over drills and hazardous tree assessments.
Mr Hilder said the brigade was also looking at rural properties on the outskirts of town to assess growth and forest close to the town.
When the fire danger period was declared Monday, it was the earliest start to a fire danger period in the three municipalities which make up district 22 since 1995 and at least three weeks earlier than usual.
The CFA said parts of Victoria had already experienced grass and bushfires and when the fire danger period was introduced in parts of Gippsland on September 10, it was the earliest date on record.
CFA district 22 operations manager Tony Owen said the seasonal bushfire outlook for southern Australia released last month suggested the fire season in Victoria to start earlier than usual and be more active than normal due to warmer and drier conditions.
‘‘Low winter rainfall across the north east means the grass and bush are dry and 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.
‘‘Any rainfall we do experience in spring will produce growth, which could very easily become a high fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed.
‘‘Reducing fuel loads will ensure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading.
‘‘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 said residents should be wary about burnoffs and should register every burn by calling 1800 668 511.
‘‘So far this year, out-ofcontrol burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have already caused unnecessary call-outs for brigades. Some of these have resulted in prosecutions,’’ 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.’’
Mr Owen said the CFA had a zero-tolerance approach to any fires which started from negligent behaviour.
‘‘Expect any fire you start to be fully investigated by CFA and Victoria Police,’’ he said.
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.
Permits are based on local conditions and take into account fuel moisture, fuel loads, grassland curing, weather and rainfall.
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