Victorians could see an increased number of fires leading into summer

Published:
Wednesday, 23 August 2023 at 12:05 am

Victorians can expect a drier and warmer spring, with a high chance of an early start to the fire season in the central, western and northern parts of the state.

Victoria’s drier than average conditions are expected to continue, following below average rainfall across much of the state during winter, according to the Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Spring, released today.

Despite below average rainfalls for winter, grass growth is expected to be higher than usual following three years of wet La Niña conditions.

A strong drying trend in far east and central Gippsland has resulted in higher-than-normal potential for fires, including communities close to bushland, especially where vegetation was unburnt during the 2019-20 fires.

There is also a high likelihood that bushfire season will start earlier, compared to the past two years, across much of central, western and northern Victoria. Remaining parts of the state are expected to see normal fire potential. However, hot, windy conditions can still pose a fire risk.

Emergency services remain well prepared for emerging risks associated with the potential for an earlier start to bushfire season and will continue to monitor conditions.

The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Spring is developed by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) and supported by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) along with state and territory fire and land managers.

It’s important for communities to understand their local risks. You can keep up to date with the Fire Danger Ratings on the VicEmergency app and VicEmergency website.

Quotes attributable to Acting Emergency Management Commissioner Chris Stephenson
“Now is the time to plan and prepare for the potential for fires, by ensuring you know what to do in case of an emergency. Make your fire plan and talk with your family about what you will do. It’s important you understand your fire risk and familiarise yourself with the new Fire Danger Ratings.
“Never rely on one source of emergency information. Download the VicEmergency app and tune in to your local emergency broadcaster.”

Quotes attributable to Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Jason Heffernan
"Victorians can expect a warmer spring and earlier start to the fire season this year, however, CFA crews across the state are prepared to protect their communities once again.
“Our members are continuously working very closely with their communities and our interagency partners to prepare for the high-risk weather season.
“Fire safety is a shared responsibility between fire services and Victorians, so we urge people to begin preparing their family and property for the upcoming fire season.”

Quotes attributable to Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman
“Reducing bushfire risk to protect life, property and the environment is at the heart of what Forest Fire Management Victoria does.
“We reduce bushfire risk all year round, and the drier conditions over winter have allowed our crews to recently conduct planned burns in parts of the state where conditions have been suitable and it is safe to do so – including in East Gippsland, Loddon Mallee and in the Grampians.
“Victoria will always have bushfires, and we want our communities to know that when a bushfire starts, we are ready to respond, with more than 500 seasonal firefighters recruited to work alongside our full-time crews and emergency sector partners.”

Quotes attributable to Fire Rescue Victoria Commissioner Gavin Freeman
“We expect bushfire season to begin early this year, so we need to be ready early. Grass and bushfires do impact built up areas. So, if you live in or near the bush, make sure your family is ready for an emergency - develop a bushfire survival plan and prepare a maintenance program for your property now.
“Anyone planning travel in Victoria should be mindful of the developing weather advice and monitor weather conditions. Preparation is the best policy when it comes to fire safety, so check the conditions before travelling and have a plan for high-risk days.”

Quotes attributable to Victoria State Emergency Service Chief Officer Tim Wiebusch
“While the forecast indicates an average season for storms and floods, it’s important communities remain vigilant and prepare for all emergencies. We know that spring can often see East Coast Lows develop and thunderstorms throughout the summer months that can bring isolated heavy rainfall and damaging winds.
“Don’t wait for the emergency to have a plan. It is vital to know your risk and to have a robust plan in place for storms, flash flooding along with potential bushfires.”

Updated