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43C forecast put us on a high fire alert

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January 05, 2018

LOCAL CFA crews will be on high alert this weekend, with 43C forecast for tomorrow and a severe fire danger rating.

LOCAL CFA crews will be on high alert this weekend, with 43C forecast for tomorrow and a severe fire danger rating.

And a total fire ban has been declared across Victoria.

‘‘It’s the highest fire danger rating we’ve had in the 2017-18 season,’’ CFA Campaspe Shire district 20 operations officer John Cutting said.

‘‘We are ready to respond and have aircraft available to respond should any fires occur.

‘‘We hope not to, but the winds are high and a change is predicted so there is a chance.’’

Mr Cutting said there had been a series of on-farm fires over the past few weeks caused by hay bales spontaneously combusting.

He said crews had attended about a dozen hay bale fires in Strathallan, Bamawm, Bamawm Extension and Pyramid Hill, while NSW brigades have also responded to ones in Moama and Mathoura.

‘‘They have varied in size from 20-30 hay bales to more than 2000,’’ Mr Cutting said.

‘‘They’re starting by spontaneous combustion and the moisture reacts with the hay breaking down and creates heat. If they get hot enough, they can ignite.’’

Because of this, Mr Cutting urged farmers to check their haystacks, particularly if they had been left uncovered.

‘‘Look for signs of collapse,’’ he said.

Mr Cutting also urged property owners not to use headers and tractors on their paddocks and avoid using machinery such as angle grinders and welders today and tomorrow.

‘‘If we can eliminate ignition sources, that’s most of our battle,’’ he said.

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