Fire danger period will begin three weeks earlier than normal in Bendigo, Loddon and Campaspe council areas, at 1am on Monday.
This is the earliest start for the fire danger period in District 22 since at least 1995.
CFA’s District 22 Operations Manager Tony Owen warned that the the fire season might be more active than normal due to warm and dry conditions.
During the fire danger period fires may not be lit in the open air without a written permit from the CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer.
Mr Owen warned that once the fire danger period was in effect the CFA would have a zero tolerance approach to fires begun by negligent behaviour.
“So far this year, out-of-control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have already caused unnecessary call-outs for brigades. Some of these have resulted in prosecutions,” Mr Owen said.
“Expect any fire you start to be fully investigated by CFA and Victoria Police.”
Mr Owen said there was still a short window for people to clean up their properties before the fire danger period began.
He urged anyone planning a burn-off to register the fire, and take care not to burn during high winds.
Low winter rainfall means that the grass and bush are dry.
Mr Owen said Bureau of Meteorology predictions that the next three months would be dryer and warmer than average increased this potential.
“Any rainfall we do experience in spring will produce growth, which could very easily become a high fuel load throughout the summer season if not properly managed,” Mr Owen said.
“Reducing fuel loads will ensure that if a fire does break out, it has less chance of taking hold or spreading.
“While CFA and its partner agencies Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management, DELWP and Emergency Management Victoria are doing everything we can to prepare for the bushfire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires.”
Several parts of Victoria have already experienced grassfires and bushfires this season.
During the fire danger period lighting a fire in the open without a permit is an offence which can bring a penalty of over $19,000 and or 12 months imprisonment.
Barbecues and fires for cooking and warmth do not require a permit but must be lit in properly constructed fireplaces.
The CFA permits fire in certain situations during the fire danger period, with strict conditions attached.
A Total Fire Ban declaration means no fires can be lit in the declared district on that day unless there is a specific exemption or special permit issues.
Register a burn-off at 1800 668 511.
More information at cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/can/
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