Back-burning to begin in Victoria despite the state still being in the middle of fire season

Back-burning to begin in Victoria despite the state still being in the middle of fire season

15 February 2010

published by  www.heraldsun.com.au


Australia — PLANNED burning will get begin across Victoria this week despite the state still being stuck in the thick of the fire season.

A cool wet summer has sparked the earliest start to the state’s autumn back burning program in five years.

Fire authorities say they have an “unusual” window of opportunity to reduce potentially deadly fuel loads.

Residents affected by Black Saturday are being told not to panic if they see smoke from controlled burning in their local areas.

Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings warned that the fire season is still going and that Victorians need to be vigilant.

“On the bad days that may occur in February and March they should be concerned and alert,” Mr Jennings said.

“At the same time if there instincts tell them it is a mild day, the weather conditions are milder and calmer, then we will be undertaking that burning program.”

“It is essential that we get on with that programme as early as possible to reduce the fuel load.”

Leaflet drops, media broadcasts and information on the DSE will be ramped up to reassure residents.

But the text message system is only used for emergencies.

Ballarat, Macedon and the Wombat State Forest corridor, the Otway Ranges, the Dandenongs and Melbourne’s water catchments are the target areas for burns.

Regeneration burns are also planned for around Marysville in the Black Range and around Alexandra in the Blue Range.

The DSE’s chief officer Ewan Waller said planned burns were the best way to manage bush fires, but conceded that they are not without risks.

The burns will occur in two waves, the first is a set of targeted burns near vulnerable communities, and the second will be broad-acre large area burns, which aim to stop the run of large bushfires.

“Victorians have a choice. Smoke from controlled burns.. or thick and arid smoke from bushfires,” Mr Waller said.

Burning will start in the Grasslands north of Melbourne once it dries out.

If hot and windy conditions prevail, burning will cease.

Mr Brumby said controlled burns could begin as soon as this week, weather permitting.

“We have been fortunate with a relatively mild February, which means that we can take action now to protect communities for next summer,” he said.

Last financial year the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria conducted 608 burns, taking in 154,000 hectares across the state.

There have been 12 total fire ban days this summer, one for the whole of Victoria, and two code red days this season.


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