Bush or grassfires can happen in urban areas. These fires are dangerous and can travel very fast.
Many Victorians live next to parks, reserves, open grasslands, paddocks or bush, even in urban areas.
It is important you understand your grassfire risk and prepare your property. You also need to know what to do if a grass or bushfire starts.
Bush and grassfires
- It’s important to monitor conditions outside. Make sure you’re connected to all emergency sources
- Follow all directions from emergency services
- Act early, even if you haven't received a warning. Plan to leave early to avoid getting caught in a grass fire
- If you live next to grassland and a grassfire starts, walk at least two streets back from the fire.
- If you live two streets or more from grassland and a grassfire starts, stay where you are and follow all directions from emergency services.
- Keep all windows and doors closed and place towels or blankets around window sills and door gaps. Do not use your air conditioner.
- Never drive if you see smoke or fire. Thick smoke will make it hard to see and traffic jams or road crashes are likely.
- You must keep roads clear for emergency service vehicles.
- Sheltering in a car is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury or death.
- Always plan to leave early to avoid getting caught in your vehicle.
If you get caught in your car, don't get out and run.
- Turn your hazard lights on
- Park off the roadway away from dense bush and long grass facing towards the oncoming fire.
- Before the fire approaches, close windows and doors tight, shut all vents and turn off the engine.
- Make sure you get down below window level and cover up with woollen blankets.
- Grassfires get very hot and radiant heat can kill.
- The safest place to be is away from the threat.
- If you're caught in a grassfire move to somewhere with minimal vegetation like a ploughed or well-grazed paddock.
- Have a plan and practice it often. Talk to your friends and family about how you will know if a fire starts, how you will stay in touch, and what you’ll do.
- Leaving early is your safest option. Decide when you will leave and where you will go on hot, dry, windy days when the risk of a fire starting increases
- Check Fire Danger Ratings daily. Fire Danger Ratings tell you how bad a fire would be if one were to start.
- Prepare your property before the fire season and maintain it throughout.
- Create fuel breaks around your property and the assets you want to protect.
- Mow your grass and remove anything flammable from around your fence line (such as firewood, rubbish, or weeds)
- Prepare an emergency kit
- Stay informed and make sure you’re connected to all emergency sources:
- Tune in to ABC local radio, commercial and designated radio stations or Sky News TV.
- Download the VicEmergency app via the or , allow push notifications for warnings, Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans.
- Add to your favourites list on your internet browser.
- Save the VicEmergency Hotline (1800 226 226) into your phone contacts.
- Follow Fire Rescue Victoria, VicEmergency, CFA and SES social media accounts.
Grassfires can be extremely dangerous - people can die in grassfires. They start anywhere, and may start early in the day.
Grassfires can spread fast:
- up to 25 km per hour, or 60 km per hour in open grassland
- a fire in a park or reserve can spread to timber fences and gardens
- strong winds can carry embers from far away
- an ember attack is likely if your house is near dense bush
- embers can fall close to or on your house, and start a new fire
- fire can spread from house to house once property starts to burn
Grassfires produce a lot of smoke, which can:
- make it hard to see,
- cause breathing difficulties,
- and increase the likelihood of traffic jams or road crashes.
Grassfires produce a lot of radiant heat, which can:
- cause serious injury or death.
Risk is most extreme if you live surrounded by or near forest that is difficult to see through. All forest or woodland presents a bushfire risk.
- be very hot and intense, producing dangerous levels of radiant heat
- produce a large amount of thick smoke
- produce embers such as twigs, bark and debris, and strong winds can bring embers from far away, and cause embers to land for a long time after the fire has passed
- cause trees to fall, particularly in high winds
- involve both heavy fuels that will burn very hot for long periods of time, and fine fuels (the thickness of a pencil or less) that will burn very fast.
Burning coastal vegetation such as scrub or heath can create dangerous conditions. If you live near, work near, or travel to the coast, you are at risk.
Coastal vegetation fires can:
- be very hot and fast-moving
- behave erratically due to gusty ocean winds
- produce a lot of embers
- reach houses quickly
- lead to busy, congested coastal roads.
Beaches, foreshores and shallow waters may not be safe or protect you from radiant heat.
Often a fire will be burning between you and the beach.
Suburb Park, reserve or bush land
Donald McDonald Reserve
Ricketts Point Hinterland
Long Hollow Heathland
Balcombe Park Reserve
Plenty Gorge (Southern End)
Merri Creek Park
The Grange Heathland
Birts Hill Reserve
Yarra Bend Park (North)
Yarra Bend Park (South)
Organ Pipes National Park
Broadmeadows Valley Park
Ringwood Lake Park
Yarra Valley School
Bay Road Heathlands
Trevor Barker Oval
Bellbird Dell Reserve
Reviewed 17 September 2020