Fire season set to come early this summer

September 25, 2023 BY

Bushfire season is likely to start early this year due to forecasts of a hot, dry end to this year.

A Surf Coast fire chief has urged local residents to begin preparing their properties for what is likely to be an earlier start to bushfire season this summer.

The arrival of an El Nino weather pattern is expected to bring a warmer and drier summer this year, which is already showing in a hotter-than-average start to spring.

The change comes after consecutive years of wet seasons from the contrasting La Nina pattern, which was conducive to vegetation growth and means fuel is abundant in the region’s most fire-prone areas.

The coming conditions means fire season is likely to be declared weeks earlier than recent, mild years in the Surf Coast and Geelong fire seasons.

A CFA spokesman said agencies were preparing for riskier conditions in 2023/24.

“It will be different from the last couple of years, when we have five seasons staring around Christmas or even later,” he said.

“That’s going to come forward by a month or more, so that’ll be an issue for us.

“Because we’re coming out of a few winter weather patterns, there’s plenty of fuel available.

“It’s going to be dry, it’s going to be warmer, and that’s going to cause us some grief.”

Local fire crews are undergoing their usual pre-summer preparations such as training and equipment checks ahead of the coming season.

The spokesman said local residents should also consider starting their own fire preparation as the weather heats up.

“The fire season might come around a little bit quicker than normal.

“Traditionally a lot of people do work around the Melbourne Cup weekend. That’s likely to be not far from the official start of the fire season, so we’d like to see landowners getting into their work now.”

He reiterated the importance of registering planned burns during spring, with unseasonably hot conditions causing more callouts than average to those fires.

He said residents should also be reminding themselves of their fire plans and be prepared to leave early in the event of a bushfire.