CFA asks public to stay calm

THE Country Fire Authority is urging people not to panic when there is smoke in the area to avoid situations like Tuesday, when brigades were called out to multiple fires, later found to be false alarms.

The region was covered in smoke around 7pm on Tuesday night from a fire in Chepstowe, near Ballarat, causing many people to call 000 to report fires that did not exist.

“We didn’t have any in the Bendigo area (but) we had fire brigades everywhere, helicopters in the air and no fires,” CFA operations officer Alun Hughson said.

“We were called out to reported fires in Sedgwick, Harcourt, Strathfieldsaye, Maiden Gully, Kangaroo Flat, Huntly, Epsom – everywhere.”

Mr Hughson recommended concerned residents go outside and have a look around if they think there is a fire nearby, before reporting it to the CFA.

“If there’s smoke all through the area, it’s possible the smoke is coming from somewhere else,” he said.

“Go outside, have a good look around and see what you think is going on. Maybe even have a chat to a neighbour to see what they think.”

He also suggested people call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (1800 240 667), monitor the CFA website and smartphone app, or listen to the radio to find out where fires are.

“Be aware where fires are, in the state,” he said. 

“Like yesterday, people would possibly be aware that there were fires in Ballarat and there was a westerly wind, so it was fairly logical that it would go through Bendigo.”

He said false alarms put a great strain on Bendigo CFA’s resources.

“What it does is it puts a lot of pressure on the 000 dispatchers and clogs up information lines,” he said.

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