Communities are being urged to prepare early for a long and potentially dangerous bushfire season this year.
At the launch of the Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook on Wednesday, fire and emergency agencies from across the country said oncreased average temperatures combined with the decline in rainfall mean Australia's bushfire season will be as potent as previous years.
Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre chief executive Richard Thornton said he expects this year to be potentially very active for fires across the country.
"It is, in many senses, very similar to the outlook we had last year...It is driven by many of the same drivers we have had the past number of years," he said.
"All of our research shows whenever we go into communities post event, a large proportion of communities are not well prepared for the fire season and a lot express surprise that they were impacted by fires.
"Fires are a normal part of the Australian landscape. Fires can start anywhere, they can start without warning and, in fact, many communities may not receive a warning because the fire will be on them so quickly."
CFA deputy chief officer for bushfire Alen Slijepcevic said October would mark the start of the bushfire season in Victoria.
"You would expect the season to start at beginning of October in west (of the state) and then travel to south and central areas," he said.
"So sometime October the higher risk (for bushfires) will be in the central area especially around Bendigo.
Mr Slijepcevic said now was time to do the work around properties and put a fire plan in place at home.
"Organise with family members to have a fire plan and discuss potential fire plans with neighbours, especially if you have vulnerable people that need to be checked on and helped with preparation," he said.
"Agencies are making sure we're ready but that's one part of equation. The other part of the equation is for communities and individuals to be ready as well."
Emergency Management Victoria commissioner Andrew Crisp agreed the seasonal outlook is similar to what the state was confronted with last year.
"What it means in terms of risk for our particular state is that when look at Gippsland in the far east of the state and moving into the Great Dividing Range, it's predicted we will have above normal fire conditions," he said.
"In the west of the state we have had good rainfall, so cropping and pasture is good there, but there's still a risk in that particular part of the state.
"It's cold and wet now but this is the time need to think about preparing. We plan and prepare in peace time because it's too too late when we're actually battling fires.
"This is very much a shared responsibility for all of us and we'll continue message in lead up to summer."
Bureau of Meteorology climatologist David Jones said the last three years have been as dry as the country has seen in 100 years.
"Australia is currently experiencing one of its most severe droughts in its historical records," he said.
"It's not a good outlook and it will certainly be a challenging fire season. We anticipate an early start and, unfortunately , a long (fire) season based on climatic conditions we have in place at the moment."
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