Ready to burn

Ready to burn

 21 September 2006

published by

Victoria, Australia — Central Victoria faces a disastrous bushfire season as the weather bureau predicts the drought to worsen.

Yesterday’s forecast of a hotter and drier than average summer came after the region was hit by bushfires and as the CFArevealed:

  • farm dams used for battling bushfires could be empty when the fire season starts;
  • CFA survey just completed found water resource levels were already low;
  • burning-off restrictions traditionally starting at Christmas could begin in November;
  • the CFA was looking at using more graders for fire breaks as an alternative to water while battling blazes.

CFA Region Two operations manager Mike Wassing said the drought was the worst he had seen in the 10 years he had been in central Victoria.

“The biggest issue at the moment is the lack of water,” Mr Wassing said.

He told The Advertiser the CFA found central Victorian open water resources in dire straits after completing a survey in the past two weeks.

“Most of the farm dams and open water were between 25 and 50 per cent capacity,” Mr Wassing said.

“There’s every chance that during the course of summer, they are not going to be there. They’re going to be dry.”

Mr Wassing said the fire service was working with water authorities and police on the issue.

“We’re working with them and upping the ante with the likelihood of us having to use large-capacity water tankers to carry water to fires and to use graders, ‘dozers and

similar equipment for dry fire fighting,” he said.

Mr Wassing said firefighters often used graders with the Department of Sustainability and Environment to fight blazes in forest areas.

“It’s something we’ve traditionally done, but it’s something we’re going to have to do more of this year and possibly into the future if water becomes a scarce resource,” he said.

Legislation gave the CFA power to take water from whatever sources it needed for battling blazes.

But he said the organisation was conscious of the impact such action had – particularly on farmers, who needed water for their livelihood.

It was important to seek alternative measures where possible, Mr Wassing said.

Firefighters would still pour water onto flames.

The graders would be used to prevent flames jumping and bushfires spreading, Mr Wassing said.


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