Dozens breach fire restrictions

Fire which started on Edgecombe Road in Kyneton last month, the cause of which is still under investigation. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Fire which started on Edgecombe Road in Kyneton last month, the cause of which is still under investigation. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Emergency services have responded to 71 illegally lit fires in the Bendigo region since November.

Police condemned the actions of those who ignored fire restrictions, putting lives and property at risk.

Inspector Michael Talbot said while the fires across Bendigo were not deliberately lit, they were all caused by deliberate actions and therefore illegal.

“Each one of those 71 fires had the potential to become a bushfire if not for the good work of the fire agencies and other people,” he said.

“It’s too many, with the exception of a few machinery ones, there should be zero.

“Lives and properties could have been lost.”

Seven of the 71 offences related to breaches of total fire bans, 16 were illegal burn offs, another 16 were private fires without permits and 26 were caused by machinery use.

Two of the fires were caused by illegal fireworks and four were runaway camp fires.

Inspector Talbot said police adopted a zero-tolerance approach to fire restriction breaches and pleaded with residents to use their common sense, warning charges would be laid.

“The message to people is if you have any doubt about fire restrictions, ring the bushfire line and discuss it with them,” he said.

“At this time of year there are bushfire restrictions across the state – just don’t do it.

“It’s incumbent on them to know that.”

CFA district 2 operations officer Trent McKinnon reminded residents fire restrictions were still in place, despite the recent change in weather conditions.

“They need to understand although the weather’s been bit more benign in the last few weeks and it’s cooled off and we’ve had some rain, we are still in the fire danger period and fire restrictions are in place,” he said.

“Anyone who is planning on doing any sort of burning off, make sure they comply with regulations and have a permit and remain vigilant until those restrictions are lifted.”

Mr McKinnon said even when a permit was issued, it was still the responsibility of the property owner to make sure the fire remained under control.

“They still have to abide by all the criteria on there and comply with all those requirements,” he said.

“Even in doing so that doesn’t take away their responsibility for being able to control the fire on the property.”

Fire restrictions came into force on November 2 and remain in place until May 1.

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