Australia — SOUTH-WEST Victoria is facing one of its worst summer fire dangers in decades with prolific grass growth drying off quickly.
Authorities are concerned the district could soon be tinder dry as the official fire danger period kicks in on December 19 for Warrnambool City, Moyne Shire and Southern Grampians Shire more than a month earlier than last summer.
Already several burn-offs on private property have gone out of control in the past few weeks and there is potential for a large outbreak.
The city council this week began posting out notices to property owners to clean up vacant blocks and rural brigades are starting to slash, burn or poison roadside grass.
Senior Warrnambool CFA station officer Henry Barton said the volume of grass growth in the south-west was probably the most he had seen in his 35 years as a firefighter. Its prolific, even in country that normally only has low growth, he said yesterday.
In the past three to four days there has been a significant change in the curing rate of grass.
Its gone from 20 per cent cure rate to about 40 per cent in a few days with more drying off in this weeks warm weather.
If property owners are considering a burn-off they should leave it till the weather is cooler and calmer.
From December 19 they will need a CFA permit or face fines or jail.
He said fire authorities and municipalities were well prepared with warning systems for peak fire days.
All property owners should clear rubbish and trim long grass around their homes clearing 10 metres out from the house and slashing or mowing 30 metres out, Mr Barton said.
CFA officers believe Victoria is one of the most bushfire-prone regions in the world.
The restrictions will be in place until May 1 unless revoked earlier.