CFA website can't handle the heat

Victoria's Country Fire Authority has had to place its website and phone app on separate servers after both malfunctioned during the worst of the heatwave.

The website failed to cope with the huge volume of traffic on Friday and the FireReady app developed glitches, users reported.

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended the CFA improve its communications as a matter of priority.

Late on Saturday afternoon, the only major fire still burning was in the state's south-west, in the Mount Richmond district. The Kentbruck fire, which had already burned 2174 hectares, was being fought by 10 aircraft and 198 firefighters.

No property is under threat, but smoke from the fire is visible several hundred kilometres away.

Meanwhile, residents of Ensay, in East Gippsland, were told to remain vigilant as a blaze burned out of control about seven kilometres north of the town.

Since 3pm on Friday, Department of Sustainability and Environment and CFA officers had responded to 112 grass and bushfires, with 40 controlled and 67 put out safely. No new bushfires were recorded on Saturday.

Despite the easing of the fire threat, the CFA website was still plagued by delays and problems on Saturday morning.

A CFA spokesman said that developers had since put the website and mobile app on separate servers so they did not rely on each other to function and had also increased both systems' capacity to cope with greater user demand.

Opposition roads spokesman Luke Donnellan said the website meltdown was a direct result of cuts to the CFA. ''You cut services, you cut numbers with the CFA and you get less services for the Victorian public.''

He said it was vital that people had access to emergency information during the fire season. ''We are obviously going to have a pretty serious fire week coming up with incredible temperatures everywhere and people need to have timely information.''

Temperatures on Monday are again expected to hit the high 30s in Melbourne, while across much of the state temperatures have hovered near 40 degrees for several days.

A spokesman for Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan directed all questions to the Fire Services Commissioner.

Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the website meltdown was ''extremely disappointing'' but that he was confident the improvements would prevent it from happening again.

''We think we have done what is needed.''

He denied that the technical glitches were similar to communication problems during Black Saturday, instead blaming them on an unprecedented demand for bushfire information.

The website and app had received more than 12 million hits in 12 hours on Friday, which was ''well above anything we had planned''.

The CFA recommended that users delete and reinstall the app on their mobile phones to fix the problems, and use various sources including radio alerts to stay up to date with emergency alerts.

The bushfires royal commission recommended that the CFA ''review and improve its communications strategy as a matter of priority and develop a program for identifying and responding to black spots in radio coverage''. It said emergency services ''should have done more'' to get warnings to the community across the state ahead of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires.

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