Hot weekend brings elevated fire risk, fire agencies warn

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 at 10:15 pm

With temperatures set to soar over the New Year’s Eve long weekend, Victorian fire agencies are warning people living in or travelling to regional areas to monitor fire conditions.

Victorians are urged to keep an eye on Fire Danger Ratings, which currently forecast Very High ratings across much of the state throughout the long weekend.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts severe heat wave conditions across the entire state from today until Saturday, with the heatwave conditions remaining in some areas until Monday.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said with temperatures expected to reach high 30s in many areas, combined with hot and dry winds, Victorians had to be prepared for fire.

“A wet winter and spring is now behind us, and December has been very dry in large parts of Victoria,” he said.

“On hot, dry and windy days like the ones we are expecting this weekend, anyone in regional areas of Victoria, and even on the metropolitan fringe, needs to stay alert to conditions, make sure they have downloaded the VicEmergency app and stay informed.

“For anyone planning to travel this weekend, it’s really important to make sure you know which fire weather district you will be in and travel through.

“You also need to look at the Fire Danger Ratings daily and if the Fire Danger Rating is Severe, reconsider your need to travel. Don’t travel to areas with an Extreme or Code Red Fire Danger Rating.”

Acting Fire Rescue Commissioner Gavin Freeman said grassfires posed a particular risk this summer, after a wet spring resulted in significant grass and scrub growth.

“Grassfires can move at speeds of up to 25km per hour and jump highways,” Acting Commissioner Freeman said.

“Avoid any fires along your planned route by setting up ‘watch zones’ in the VicEmergency app before you leave, to receive updates about any nearby incidents.”

With many Victorians camping or visiting national parks this long weekend, Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardiman also urged campers to be mindful of conditions and take care.

“It’s crucial the community works with us to prevent bushfires from starting and pays attention to campfire safety – unattended campfires can spread quickly and have devastating impacts on communities and the environment.

“Visitors to Victoria’s parks and state forests should be aware of all exit routes and any evacuation points.”

Unattended campfires should be reported to 136 186, bushfires should be reported to 000. On days of a Total Fire Ban, campfires are not allowed and should be reported to 000.