Australia — THE fire danger period in the Macedon Ranges ended yesterday but fire chiefs are warning residents not to be complacent, as it’s still current in neighbouring Hume, which includes Sunbury.
CFA chief officer Euan Ferguson said that although the weather was starting to cool the state was still dry and ready to burn.
“As we’ve seen this fire season, fires start easily and travel fast. They can threaten properties and even kill.
“People should have a fire plan and prepare for the event of fire never be complacent.”
In the Macedon Ranges and Sunbury, several deliberately lit fires posed a threat during the fire season, which started on December 10.
The biggest was a grassfire in Sunbury on January 8 that came within metres of houses near the Calder Freeway between Moore Road and Baggy Green Street.
In February, a 70-hectare fire at Kerrie was ignited by a “carelessly discarded cigarette” and burnt in dense bush for three days.
But despite the warm start to the year, the Macedon Ranges Council’s three ‘hot day out’ centres in Romsey, Gisborne and Kyneton were activated only twice during the fire season.
The first, on January 4, was attended by eight residents, mostly elderly people. The second was on March 12 and no one attended.
The council’s community development manager, Jill Karena, said the centres were a place for residents to relax and get information on extreme and code red fire danger days.
She said they were initiated by the council after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
The 2012-13 bushfire season was the first time since 2010 that the centres were required to be open.
As the fire danger is subsiding in the Macedon Ranges, planned burns will be stepped up across the region.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment has planned a 54-hectare fuel reduction burn near Braemar College in Woodend.
DSE Midlands District fire manager Merydth Whitehead said planned burns were an effective way of reducing the threat of severe bushfires to communities.
“Planned burning reduces fuel hazard so as to improve our ability to control bushfires before they grow and threaten lives and assets.”
Ms Whitehead said the weather was the biggest challenge for the planned burning program. “We can burn only when the weather and other conditions, such as fuel moisture levels, are right. We have processes in place to make sure every burn is conducted as safely as possibly, and burns are patrolled until they are considered safe.”