During September, temperatures hit close to 30 degrees around Melbourne, and combined with winds of up to 110km/h, CFA brigades responded to more than 50 grass and scrub fires across the state.
This included an incident in Tarneit, which has prompted CFA to remind residents to always take care when burning off.
“People should never leave a burn off unattended and they need to check weather conditions before burning off. You should never burn off in hot, dry, windy conditions,” CFA North West Metro Community Education Coordinator Mike Shaw said.
“To avoid brigades being called out unnecessarily by a neighbour or passer by, tell your neighbours when you plan to burn-off and register the burn with the CFA on 1800 668 511.”
On September 15, brigades attended to another out of control burn-off at Downing Street, Mount Cottrell. Truganina Fire Brigade Captain Colin Squires said crews were called to the incident just after 1.15pm where the fire had quickly spread to neighbouring properties, and burnt through about 20 hectares.
“This is an example of how quickly a change in wind can cause a fire to spread quickly through grass,” Mr Squires said.
“And across the North West Metro Region there is a lot of grassland, right from Rockbank and through to the Diggers Rest and Toolern Vale areas.”
North West Metro residents should also be aware of an increased potential for fast moving grass fires this summer. The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre has released their report into Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook and has found there is an increased potential for above-normal bushfire activity this fire season because of very large areas of drying grass across the continent.
“Grassfires should not be underestimated; they can be extremely dangerous and cause death, trauma or serious injury,” Mr Shaw said.
“It is suggested that people start preparing their properties sooner rather than later.
“As the days get warmer and the fire restrictions come into force, the task of clearing and removing debris from around the property becomes harder to achieve. There is also the risk of fire occurring early in the warmer months, and without adequate preparation, properties could be lost.”
Mr Shaw said there were many things people could do to prepare, including cleaning up around the yard to remove any dead branches, long grass, and leaf litter and remove flammable items from deck or verandas.
“Throughout the fire season, CFA will also be running public information sessions called Fire Ready Victoria meetings (FRV) to help residents further prepare,” he said.
“These FRV meetings are held in locations that the CFA feel are at risk of being impacted by either bushfire or grassfires.”
At these meetings the public will receive information on the local risk for their area, an explanation on Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans, as well as the importance of having a well planned and rehearsed Bushfire Survival Plan.
Mr Shaw added that one of the most beneficial ways for people to access information on preparing their properties was to organise for a Home Bushfire Assessment. The free one hour assessment is conducted by trained CFA staff and as part of the service; the resident is given a written report on their property and improvements that can be made in terms of bushfire safety.
For more information on this service or any other fire safety program, contact CFA District 14 Headquarters on (03) 8746 1400 or via the website www.cfa.vic.gov.au