The bushfire risk for north-east Victoria this summer has been upgraded from below normal to above normal with the latest seasonal outlook from the Bushfire and National Hazards CRC.
Emergency Management Victoria warned of significant grassfire risk this summer as extensive spring growth dries out creating high fuel loads across the state.
The highest risk will be across western and central Victoria in both grass and bush areas.
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC released the changes last week in response to recent weather conditions, including above average rainfall and expected above average temperatures from November to January.
The main change in the outlook has seen fire potential in north east Victoria and west and south Gippsland upgraded from below normal to above normal. Strong drying is also expected in eastern areas.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said Victorians could expect a more traditional season this year with fire risk to peak during January and February.
“Above average spring rainfall combined with warmer temperatures has produced ideal growing conditions for crops and pasture,’’ he said.
“There is considerable grass growth across the state and as this dries out with the warmer weather, it will become very flammable.
“More than 47 fires were reported in one day with the onset of hot weather last week including a large grass fire at Swan Hill.
“Preparation is the key, particularly for people living in interface areas. Grass fires can start without warning and can spread quickly. Don’t get caught out.
“With the busy Christmas season just around the corner now is the time to prepare. Manage grass growth, reduce fuel loads and make sure you have a plan and know what you will do if there is a fire.’’
Mr Lapsley said Victoria’s firefighters were ready for the season ahead and would be supported by the state’s 48 firebombing aircraft.
“Our emergency management personnel are ready to go. We’ve had more than 1880 people attend 40 pre-season briefings across the state so they know the risks, are prepared to respond and work with our communities when the season hits,” he said.
“Victoria has a strong aerial firebombing fleet that will work alongside our firefighters to protect communities.
“We have improved our ability to respond to fires immediately by expanding our pre-determined dispatch capability to include five new locations.
“Five aircraft are already operating in Ouyen, Sea Lake and Nhill to support harvesting operations across the north west of the state, where a late start to the season means cropping coincides with more severe or extreme fire danger.’’
Victorians are reminded to know how to stay informed and to never rely on one source for emergency information.
Victorians can get emergency information from a number of sources including the VicEmergency app, www.emergency.vic.gov.au, tuning in to ABC radio or other emergency broadcasters including commercial and community radio stations or Sky TV or by phoning the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 and following VicEmergency on Facebook and Twitter.