Grassfire danger high this summer, but bushfires lower
THE latest weather data shows a forecast of a wet spring.
This is predicted to lead to continued strong grass growth and the potential of increased grassfire conditions once the vegetation dries out.
Released last week, the quarterly national Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for September to November shows this year’s average to above average rainfall across much of Victoria is likely to result in continuous grass and crop fuels growth through most areas in the north.
But, for many forest areas, conditions are currently normal or wetter than normal.
The forecast indicates above average rainfall during spring, leading to a below average fire risk for summer across the North East.
“Like last year, we can expect a grassfire-dominated start to the fire season,” said CFA chief officer, Jason Heffernan.
“While the risk of campaign bushfires in forested areas is substantially reduced.
“But, Victoria is one of the most bushfire-prone areas in the world, and even a normal fire season can present a high risk to communities.
“I encourage all Victorians to plan and prepare for their safety and ensure that everyone in their household knows what to do.”
Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) chief fire officer Chris Hardman also
warned residents, saying “despite a wetter than average winter in some parts of the state, it only takes a few days of extreme weather conditions for the fire risk to rapidly rise”.
Spring is historically a more challenging time of year for large scale planned burning due to less predictable weather conditions, such as wind.
However, the higher moisture levels in forest areas may also provide opportunities to carry out planned burning this year.
Planned burning works are supported with an increase in mechanical fuel management including slashing and mulching, as well as creating and maintaining fuel breaks to reduce the bushfire risk for communities and the environment.
Preparations by the emergency management sector for the 2021-2022 spring and summer season will incorporate planning for the risk of fire and extreme weather, with the added complexity of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Emergency Management Victoria will continue to work closely with the emergency services sector to ensure the safety of Victorian communities.
“The spring outlook gives us an early indication of what Victoria could expect over the summer season,” said emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp.
“New growth resulting from high rainfall raises the potential for grassfires which can move quickly and threaten properties and life.”