The message yesterday for this fire season from the Country Fire Authority was sharp and succinct – “Get ready and get ready now.”
Yesterday we were warned that the fire season ahead was shaping up to be amongst the the worst on record.
Maybe not the worst, but serious enough not to be lax about.
Forest Fire Management Victoria’s Loddon Mallee regional manager Allyson Lardner yesterday told a briefing that current fire conditions were equal to some of Victoria’s worst seasons.
“It's very, very dry. It's not number one but it is well and truly up there in the top 10,” she said.
There’s no doubt it’s bone dry. Take a drive and you will see that undergrowth is already at tinder point in the forests that ring Bendigo and abutt many central Victorian towns. Fields are brown where irrigation isn’t in play. There is no signficant rain on the forecast horizon.
And yesterday the Bureau of Meterology revised its ENSO Outlook to "El Niño Alert" meaning the chances of an El Niño forming during spring is now 70 percent, or roughly three times the normal risk. This will mean warmer and drier conditions.
It all adds up to more fire danger.
“The community needs to prepare for the summer. That's a constant theme – undertake works now before its too late,” Country Fire Authority operations manager Bill Johnstone told the briefing.
“We want to make sure the community is ready and get our messaging out there so when a fire event happens, the community will know something is going on and what we expect them to do.”
The same message goes out each year. With memories of Black Saturday still fresh in the minds of central Victorians, any forward planning that could help your chances in a firestorm should be taken.
Clean up around the house, make sure you know your fire-escape routes, leave early and know the bushfire places of last-resort that you can flee to when all other avenues are blocked.
Simply put, these are the steps that, taken into account often and early, could save your life.
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