Sunday April 19 2015
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DSE heats up bushfire prevention burns

DSE planned burn
DSE officer sets the bush alight as part of the department’s planned burn program.

There may be more smoke than usual over Victoria’s south west in the next few weeks as the Department of Sustainability and Environment looks to carry out planned burns.

The department has reminded residents it will burn whenever conditions are suitable as it tries to reduce fuel loads ahead of the fire season. Acting chief fire officer David Nugent said planned burning was increasing.

“Since July, crews have already been able to treat more than 11,000 hectares and it is expected burning will increase over the next few weeks.

“There are likely to be some significant burning opportunities in Victoria’s south west this week, which may include burns close to communities.

“Crews are monitoring fuel conditions across the rest of the state to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.”

There are four planned burns ready to go near the Surf Coast listed on the DSE’s website, including 12 hectares near the Anglesea Golf Club and nine hectares near Point Addis.

Nearby residents and visitors may see or smell smoke while the burns are carried out. Sometimes roads and parks may need to close, road travel may be hazardous due to low visibility from smoke, and smoke can affect some people’s health.

Mr Nugent said planned burning was part of an integrated plan to reduce bushfire risk to people, properties and communities. DSE and Parks Victoria crews treated nearly 200,000 hectares of public parks and forests in 2011/12.

“Despite wet weather we were able to achieve the biggest planned burning program in more than two decades,” he said.

“We also carried out extensive preparation work to get burn sites ready in parts of the state that have been too wet for burning, so we already have about 180,000 hectares ready to burn when the weather is suitable.”

Visitors to national parks and state forests have also been urged to take extreme care with campfires. DSE state duty officer Kendra Dean said spring was notorious for unpredictable weather so it was important for people to take extra care whenever lighting a campfire.

“I want to remind people that unattended campfires can easily spread in these types of conditions and start a bushfire. About 10 per cent of fires in Victoria’s parks and forests are started by campfire escapes so it is important that people keep informed of the existing weather and fire conditions and also the forecast conditions in the days following their visit.

“Campfires are not permitted in some areas of public land or may only be allowed in purpose-built fireplaces.”

For more information on where and when burns are likely to happen within 10 days (weather permitting), phone 1800 240 667 or head to dse.vic.gov.au/burns.

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