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