Keep control of private fires, CFA pleads

November 26, 2020 BY

The CFA is urging Victorians to take care with open fires such as campfires and private burn-offs. Photo: CHRISTMAS HILLS FIRE BRIGADE

MORE than a quarter (27 per cent) of bushfires are caused by escaped private fires, equating to more than 6,100 bushfires over the past decade that should never have happened.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing and many people travelling to the regions, CFA has released the data to urge Victorians to take care with open fires such as campfires and private burn-offs.

Of the bushfires (which also includes grass and scrub fires) caused by escaped private fires responded to by CFA brigades between November 1 and March 31 over the past 10 years:

13 per cent were caused by previous fires rekindling after not being properly extinguished 6 per cent were caused by inadequately controlled fires.

4 per cent were caused by high wind, and 3 per cent escaped after being left unattended.

CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said last week it was a timely warning to Victorians to take the utmost care when undertaking burn-offs or enjoying campfires and other recreational fires.

“We are expecting to see significant movement across the state as Victorians travel to catch up with loved ones, visit holiday properties, go camping and enjoy the great outdoors.

“Unfortunately, many bushfires start from escaped campfires and recreational fires. It’s vital to know how to properly light and maintain a campfire to make sure it doesn’t go bush.

“Before lighting a fire, check fire restrictions and weather conditions – not only the day of your fire but in the following days when a badly extinguished fire can flare up in hot and windy weather.”

Victorians are reminded to never leave a fire unattended, even for a short while, as campfires can spread quickly without supervision.

Campers should extinguish their fire using water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil for several days and reignite under the right conditions. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave.

Burn-offs as part of property preparations are also significant risk when not done safely.

“With the warm, windy weather last week, CFA crews responded to several escaped private burn-offs across the state,” Acting Chief Officer Cook said.

“We urge people to exercise extreme caution when cleaning up properties using private burn-offs and encourage people to visit our website for tips on how to safely do that.

“It includes advice such as always checking

fire restrictions with your local council and registering your burn on 1800 668 511, to check and monitor weather conditions, and having sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.”

For more information about Total Fire Bans and Fire Danger Ratings, how to plan and prepare and what you can and can’t do during fire restrictions and a Total Fire Ban, head to cfa.vic.gov.au.

Head to ffmvic.vic.gov.au for more information about campfire safety, and emergency.vic.gov.au to learn more about preparing for an emergency and to download the VicEmergency app.

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