Central and Norther Victoria at "high risk" of fire this season

TEAM WORK: Fire crews work to control a blaze in Maiden Gully in February.

TEAM WORK: Fire crews work to control a blaze in Maiden Gully in February.

BENDIGO is expected to face an "above normal" fire season this year, the latest seasonal outlook for southern Australia predicts. 

The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2014/15 indicates central and northern Victorian regions are at the highest risk of fire this season. 

It also shows the state can expect a warmer spring, with little rain in some areas.

Country Fire Authority Loddon Mallee operations officer and acting regional commander Craig Britton said now was the time to prepare for the fire season. 

"We've had a deficit of rain over the past two years and are likely to see warm conditions through spring," he said. 

"The best thing for people to do is to start cleaning up around their homes and properties and start making plans that they can practise with their families."

Mr Britton said climate experts had predicted Australia would experience longer, drier summers in the future.

He said little or no moisture in the ground during the warmer months meant there was more available fuel to burn. 

"It's all about making sure of the early warning," he said. 

Emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley said the expected lack of rain and the potential for an earlier start to the season meant the state needed to be prepared for another significant summer. 

"January and February are traditionally the worst periods for bush and grass fires in Victoria," he said.  

"Areas including Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour and around Melbourne including Geelong and Healesville have grass, bush and higher populations, a combination that will challenge Victoria this season."

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