Plan to survive in a fire

  Plan to survive in a fire

2 January 2008

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Australia — Bendigo Fire authorities have reiterated the vital need for residential fire plans during an extreme fire season to avoid potentially fatal last-minute driving through bushfires.

The warning comes after three truck drivers died in West Australia on the Highway after a road block was lifted and they drove into the heart of a fire storm.

The last fatalities directly caused by a bushfire in Victoria were also caused by people attempting to drive through a bushfire.

Father and son Kenneth Wilson and Zeke Wilson died on January 22, 2006, after passing through a road block at Moyston in an attempt to reach a family property.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment and the CFA yesterday reinforced its message of not only obeying all fire traffic warnings, but for residents to formulate a plan on whether to stay and defend their property or leave early.

DSE duty officer, David Major said one of the most dangerous things people can do is hope to escape at the last moment by driving through a bushfire.

‘‘It is incredibly dangerous and we would advise people never to drive through flames or through smoke they can’t see through,’’ Mr Major said ‘‘Certainly the message is if you decide to leave then you need to do so long before danger approaches.’’ CFA regional duty officer Mark Gilmour said a vital part of preparing a fire plan for any property is deciding well beforehand whether to stay or go.

‘‘It’s going to be terrible (if you stay), there will be embers, smoke and it will sound like a freight train going through your head,’’ he said ‘‘And if you can’t withstand that, then you have to make a decision to get to somewhere safe, but you have to make that decision early.’’

Mr Gilmour said those with properly prepared fire plans stood the best chance of saving property, as most houses were burnt down by embers and spot fires after the fire front had passed.

He said inside a properly prepared house was also a much safer place to shelter from a fire front rather than running the risk of trying to drive though it or outrun it in a car.

Mr Gilmour said people in high fire prone areas should stay continually updated about fire conditions and consider an early trip into a safe area.

He said communities should also work together to ensure the elderly and infirm have the ability to escape any danger area early.

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