In­creased risk likely to see re­stric­tions a month ear­lier than last sea­son: CFA

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY KYLIE WIL­SON kwil­son@ ne­me­dia.com.au

WITH an ex­pected early start to fire sea­son, CFA Dis­trict 23 op­er­a­tions man­ager Ste­wart Krelt­szheim is urg­ing the pub­lic to be vig­i­lant and pre­pared for the on­slaught of warmer weather.

Speak­ing on the eve of this week’s Fire Ac­tion Week, Wan­garatta-based Mr Krelt­szheim said he ex­pected Dis­trict 23 to be un­der fire re­stric­tions be­fore the end of Oc­to­ber, a full month ear­lier than in 2017.

The ear­lier fire sea­son comes in the wake of a dry win­ter with low rain­fall, with spring fuel loads that are al­ways plen­ti­ful.

Mr Krelt­szheim warned the dis­trict as a whole was at high fire risk, but par­tic­u­larly ar­eas north and west of the Hume Free­way.

“We are bat­ten­ing down for the po­ten­tial long haul,” he told the Wan­garatta

Chron­i­cle yes­ter­day. He said that any prepa­ra­tion peo­ple in both ru­ral and ur­ban in­ter­face ar­eas need to do around their prop­erty - es- pe­cially de­creas­ing fuel loads and elim­i­nat­ing fire haz­ards - should be done within the next fort­night.

Mr Krelt­szheim said lo­cal CFA bri­gades had be­come con­cerned about the high num­ber of es­caped burn-offs that they have had to bring un­der con­trol in re­cent times.

He said that any­one con­sid­er­ing a burn-off be­fore fire re­stric­tions are in place must keep watch and mon­i­tor weather at all times, and en­sure they stay within the terms of their per­mit.

“Not only can es­caped burn-offs threaten lives and prop­erty, those in charge of the fire can be legally re­spon­si­ble for the dam­age caused,” Mr Krelt­szheim said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, peo­ple out camp­ing or en­joy­ing their week­end prop­erty must en­sure their fire is cool and fully ex­tin­guished be­fore they leave their camp­ing site.

He said the CFA has started hold­ing com­mu­nity meet­ings, with full de­tails avail­able at cfa.vic.gov.au.

Mr Krelt­szheim said that wher­ever peo­ple live, they need to have thor­ough dis­cus­sions with their fam­i­lies and loved ones about plans for evac­u­a­tion or de­fend­ing prop­erty, should a fire emer­gency arise.

He said clar­i­fi­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion was avail­able by con­tact­ing the Bush­fire In­for­ma­tion Line on 1800 240 667 or the Dis­trict 23 Wan­garatta of­fice on (03) 5721 4122, or from the CFA web­site.

Fire Ac­tion Week, which runs from Oc­to­ber 7-14, is a time for house­holds to in­crease their un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal fire risks, pre­pare their prop­er­ties and plan how to stay safe.

Vic­to­ri­ans can stay up-to­date with emer­gency warn­ings by tun­ing into Vic­to­ria’s emer­gency broad­cast­ers in­clud­ing ABC lo­cal ra­dio and Sky News, phon­ing the VicEmer­gency hot­line 1800 226 226, vis­it­ing www.emer­gency.vic.gov.au, and down­load­ing the VicEmer­gency App.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

BE ON GUARD: CFA Dis­trict 23 op­er­a­tions man­ager Ste­wart Krelt­szheim is urg­ing the pub­lic to be vig­i­lant and pre­pare early for what is set to be a long, hot fire sea­son.

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