A GRASS fire on a property between Foster and Fish Creek last Friday served as a timely warning of the especial danger posed this summer by fires of this nature. After an uncommonly wet year vegetation, especially grass, is in abundance.
Last Friday at about 2.20pm a landowner in O’Grady’s Ridge Road was burning off dry grass that had been slashed earlier when the fire looked like it was getting out of control. Concerned that the fire could spread to neighbouring properties, the landowner called the fire brigade. CFA units from Foster and Fish Creek attended and the fire was quickly extinguished, with only about half an acre of land burnt.
“It’s a warning to be careful,” said Foster CFA 1st Lieutenant James McIntyre.
“People who are planning to have a burn-off are encouraged to ring VicFire on 1800 668 511,” added Mr McIntyre. “That way CFA volunteers will not be called out unnecessarily if a neighbour notices smoke or flames and becomes alarmed. It will be on the record that a burn-off is taking place.” (Editors note: you can view local fire information here)
CFA Gippsland Brigade Support Officer Jodi Butler confirmed that there is a high risk of grass fires after all the spring growth. She reiterated Mr McIntyre’s advice about alerting VicFire about burn-offs and recommended leaving a contact number so that a follow-up call can be made if necessary to the person carrying out the burn.
She said that any more burn-offs will have to be carried out within the next couple of weeks, as it is likely fire restrictions will come into place across the district later this month. “That will be confirmed shortly. People should keep an eye on their local newspapers for details.”
Uppermost in Ms Butler’s mind at the moment, however, is the need for everyone who lives – or holidays in – an area with a high bushfire risk, such as South Gippsland, to have their own personal fire plan.
She is urging residents and holidaymakers to attend an information session on how to prepare a personal fire plan at Sandy Point this Saturday.
“There is no need to make appointments. There will be plenty of staff on hand who will be able to work with people one-on-one to prepare their own personal fire plans,” she said.
The information session will be held between 10am and 2pm on the foreshore opposite the Sandy Point shops – weather permitting – or else in the fire shed. There will be plenty of other information available, so it will be worth attending the session even if you have already prepared a plan.
Also on Saturday, said Ms Butler, people will be able to make appointments for the home bushfire advice service. This involves a visit from a qualified fire safety officer who will report on how the householder can better prepare their house and property for bushfire.
“We had a good response to the session we ran last Venus Bay last Sunday, but I know there are still people out there who still don’t have a plan written down. It is important that you have a plan and that everyone in your household is aware of it,” said Ms Butler. “You should discuss what you plan to do with the rest of your household and make sure everyone has the same understanding of what will happen in the case of a fire.”
Fire Ready meetings were also held by the CFA in conjunction by the shire council at Walkerville last Wednesday, Port Welshpool last Saturday and Waratah Bay yesterday, and there will be one at Inverloch next Sunday.