CFA sur­vey con­cern

Myrtleford Times - - Front Page - BY TATE SPI­TERI tspi­[email protected]­me­

ONLY one in 10 Vic­to­ri­ans liv­ing in ar­eas at high risk of bush­fire say they would ‘leave early’ on days of high fire dan­ger, a CFA sur­vey has re­vealed.

That’s the low­est pro­por­tion in the past seven years of the CFA’s Bush­fire Com­mu­nity Sur­vey, un­der­taken an­nu­ally since 2009-10, which recorded a peak of 15 per cent in 2012.

Myrtle­ford CFA Cap­tain, Garry Gun­son, de­scribed the statis­tic as “a bit sad”.

“It’s very un­for­tu­nate but there’s not much we can do about it, we can’t force peo­ple to leave,” he said.

“Our lo­ca­tion to­pog­ra­phy there’s pretty much only one way out.

“Myrtle­ford’s lucky to have Wodonga or Wan­garatta but as far as the group goes, the Ovens Val­ley as a whole, you don’t re­ally have a choice.

“Peo­ple from Bright don’t want to be go­ing down the Great Alpine Road at a days’ no­tice they need to be think­ing about leav­ing a day or two in ad­vance.”

Mr Gun­son said even though Buf­falo River has a Rose River exit, he would also sug­gest they leave with am­ple time given the like­li­hood of it also be­com­ing trapped in high risk bush­fire pe­riod.

“It’s the to­pog­ra­phy of the val­ley, if they do get trapped they’re on their own ba­si­cally, where there’s only one way out- you need to be leav­ing early,” he added.

“That is es­pe­cially for campers and hol­i­day mak­ers, they must know an emer­gency exit and have a planned evac­u­a­tion if need to be.”

The CFA’s Deputy Chief Of­fi­cer Stephanie Ro­tarangi said those who waited too long to leave, or were not ad­e­quately pre­pared to de­fend their prop­erty, could be risk­ing their lives and those of fire­fight­ers.

“Leav­ing early is the safest op­tion to pro­tect your­self and your fam­ily and it means leav­ing the area be­fore a fire starts – not when you can see flames or smell smoke. Leav­ing early means avoid­ing panic, be­ing trapped, mak­ing the wrong choices and risk­ing se­ri­ous in­jury or death,” she said.

“This sea­son still has the po­ten­tial to be in line with Victo- ria’s dri­est fire sea­sons. It’s not a ques­tion of if there will be bush­fires this sea­son, it’s a ques­tion of when and where.”

When quizzed, Mr Gun­son added he was dis­ap­pointed with the state elec­tion re­sult that went against Myrtle­ford’s hopes for a new CFA sta­tion.

“Tim McCurdy was on our side and he got most of the votes from here but his party didn’t get in, un­for­tu­nately that’s the way it rolls,” he said.

ACT BEFO RE IT’S TOO LATE:M yrtle­ford CFA cap­tain Gary G un­son says res­i­dents should be pre­pared to ‘leave early’on days ofhigh fire dan­ger.

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