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Summer fire outlook

Forecasters are predicting a ‘normal’ fire season in 2020-21, but possible spring rain is likely to have an impact on fire potential in the lead up to and during summer. 

While the outlook indicates that above-average winter rain has substantially reduced the risk of ‘campaign’ fires in Victoria’s east to the end of November, parts of the Wimmera, Mallee, North East and Far South West are drier than normal.   

Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre, with the Bureau of Meteorology and fire and land managers, has developed the outlook and Country Fire Authority is working to ensure the public understands the season. 

While there is a high chance of above-median rainfall north and south of the Divide during spring, this rain is likely to affect bushfire potential for the west and south-west of the state.  

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The severity of fires in the west half of the state will depend on several factors, including the amount, location and timing of rain in spring and summer. Emergency-management agencies are constantly analysing circumstances for changes in conditions. 

How does the outlook differ

East and West Gippsland and the North East were a focus for emergency services last summer, as dry conditions over consecutive years resulted in above-normal bushfire conditions.

In 2019-20 there were more than 3500 grass, scrub and bush fires and fires burnt more than 1.5-million hectares.

Lighting strike started the first bushfires in East Gippsland on November 21 and some burnt for more than 100 days. 

What resources will be available  

All available emergency management agencies will be on standby to respond to incidents across the state. This includes thousands of our dedicated volunteer and career firefighters from across all agencies. Aircraft will provide immediate fire response and pre-determined dispatch across the state, allowing water bombing aircraft to respond to fires at the same time as fire trucks. 

What aircraft will be used?

The State Government has provided $29-million in funding for a fleet of 51 aircraft. The fleet includes a mix of water-bombing aircraft, air-supervision and air-intelligence-gathering aircraft.

The Victorian fleet has been critical in stopping the spread of fire over recent years, providing immediate response in the early stage of fires and supporting firefighters on the ground, including across eastern Victoria earlier this year.

From November 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020, there were a total of 2046 aircraft dispatches.  

Victoria will also have support by a surge capacity of up to 100 aircraft, which can be called to supplement the core fleet when needed.

How can Victorians prepare? 

The Country Fire Authority’s message for all Victorians is to start preparing homes and properties now.

Making informed decisions is vital to your safety during a fire. Taking steps to get prepared before the fire season means you know what to do when you’re at risk of fire.

Talk to family and friends about how you’ll know when to leave and where to go to stay safe.

Pack important documents, photos, medications, money and clothes so you can leave easily before a fire starts.

You could be at serious risk of uncontrollable fires on severe, extreme and code red days. It’s up to you to stay informed. Check the fire danger ratings daily and act to protect yourself and your family. All Victorians need to know what to do in the event of a fire, and on severe, extreme and code red days. Know your risk and what to do in the event of a fire.

The entire November 11, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!