Nearly 20 illegal burn-offs have been recorded in central Victoria since the start of the regions’ fire danger periods, new figures show as the Country Fire Authority braces for a hot and potentially windy end to the week.
It also comes as the CFA releases statistics finding only one in 10 people at the highest risk would leave early on days of high fire danger.
By noon on Tuesday, CFA crews had responded to 13 illegal burn-offs in district two, which encompasses the Bendigo region, as well as six in district 20, which covers areas north to the Murray River.
A CFA spokesperson said police were called in Woodend as recently as Monday after fire crews extinguished a fire.
“Although incidents like the one in Woodend posed no risk to lives or property, by failing to notify and seek approval from local authorities, CFA firefighters were taken away from their workplaces, families and potentially genuine emergencies as well as raising concerns in the local community,” they said.
“Out of control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs are a major and avoidable headache for CFA.”
Meanwhile, on the Murray River, Forest Fire Management Victoria officers found two campfires lit on Saturday, a day of total fire ban.
The people responsible now risk being prosecuted, though officers were encouraged that people at 60 other campsites had not lit campfires.
On Wednesday, the CFA released the results of a new survey finding only 10 per cent of people in high bushfire risk areas would leave early on days of high fire danger.
It is the lowest result in the seven years the CFA has conducted the bushfire community survey.
Victoria is bracing for hot and potentially windy days for the rest of the week. The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting the barometer to creep up to 39 degrees in Bendigo by Friday.
Deputy Chief Officer Stephanie Rotarangi said those who waited too long to leave, or were not adequately prepared to defend their property, could be risking their lives and those of firefighters.
Dr Rotarangi warned Victorians not to be complacent despite recent rainfall across much of Victoria.
The CFA spokesperson said people wanting information about burn-off restrictions in their area should consult their local council.
“Even if you have a permit to use fire over the fire danger period, make sure you read the conditions carefully. Failing to follow just one of those conditions may leave you open to prosecution.”
During the fire danger period fires cannot be lit in open air without a written permit from CFA or a municipal fire prevention officer.
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