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Record dry sparks grave fire season fears

September 1, 2023 8:54 am in by

People living in fire-prone regions such as the Otways and the Surf Coast are being urged to start thinking about fire preparations now, after what was likely the warmest and driest winter on record.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning of an equally problematic spring, leading to fears that another dangerous fire season lies ahead.

The CFA said recent fire disasters in Hawaii and Greece sounded a clear warning against complacency.

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Region Seven Assistant Chief Brendan Lawson said some areas in the Geelong region were particularly at risk.

“Our densely bushed areas along the Otways, the Brisbane Ranges, and working out to the west into Enfield State Park, and right across our region there is grassfire risk,” he told Geelong Broadcasters.

“There’s an opportuniy between now and summer (for locals) to make sure their properties are prepared. The best thing we can all do together is to make sure we’re ready for high risk days.”

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said half of all Victorians in high-risk bushfire areas are risking their lives if a bushfire was to occur.

“Our firefighters are always well prepared (but) your safety during fire season is a shared responsibility, so it’s vital that you understand your local risks and take actions to prepare your family and property,” Mr Heffernan said.

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“We’ve seen in the recent release of the spring seasonal outlook that weather patterns are changing and we’re expecting warmer and drier conditions across the state leading up to summer.

“Fires spread quickly and they threaten lives and properties. The community needs to be prepared and they need to know their triggers to act. Please don’t rely on one source of information, utilise the multiple channels available to you. Use common sense and protect yourself and your loved ones.”

The CFA’s annual Bushfire Community Survey found that 30.9% of respondents would wait for emergency authorities to tell them what to do, 28.6% would stay until they felt threatened and 13.8% would stay and defend their property.

The survey also showed 44.4% believe the CFA is responsible for protecting them during a bushfire, and 43.8% said the authority is responsible for protecting their home.

Mr Heffernan said those figures were concerning.

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“We simply can’t get a truck to every house during a major bushfire. Fire safety is a joint effort and the community need to also take on this responsibility when living in a bushfire prone area,” he said.

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