Fire services brace for extreme fire danger

FIREFIGHTERS are bracing for extreme heat today, with temperatures expected to soar into the 40s.

A total fire ban has been declared for the entire state, and people are being warned to exercise caution ahead of the Australia Day long weekend.

The landscape across Gippsland is tinder dry, and there have already been many fires sparked as a result of simple oversights.

Gippsland regional controller Mike Owen urged people to think about what activities they were planning, and consider if they were really essential.

He said activities as simple as mowing and slashing grass or using grinders and welders had been the cause of several fires during the past few weeks.

No general purpose hot works, such as welding, soldering, grinding or gas cutting can be done in the open on total fire ban days, and no fires can be lit or be allowed to remain alight in the open air.

Last week lightning strikes resulted in some 20 fires in remote areas of the Gippsland High Country.

A significant fire fighting effort has resulted in all but one of those fires being bought under control; however more lightning was forecast this week ahead of hot and windy conditions today.

“We are expecting a particularly bad day [today] and we are encouraging everyone to take care,” Mr Owen said.

He reminded people to ensure that they were responsible with campfires [allowed on non-total fire ban days] and understand their responsibilities.

“Never ever leave a campfire unattended at any time and extinguish it completely with plenty of water when you leave.

“Don’t let your campfire become a bushfire.”

Mr Owen also urged people to be mindful of the heat and listen for heat health alerts.

“Extreme heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster.

“Drink plenty of water and look after others, particularly those most at risk such as your neighbour living alone, the elderly, the young, people with a medical condition.

“Make sure that you are aware of any total fire bans and observe all fire restrictions.

“Be aware of your surroundings.

“Understand the fire danger ratings and what they mean to your situation, whether you are at home, out driving on regional roads or camping.

“If you are in any doubt or have any concerns, leaving early is always the best option.

“Take extra precautions; avoid undertaking any activities that may cause fires to ignite, and most importantly look after each other.

“Check in on friends and family in hot weather, and do not put yourself, your family or your community at risk with simple mistakes that can cause disastrous bushfires.”

A GRASS fire in Sale on Monday evening was brought under control within 14 minutes.

Three CFA tankers responded to the fire on Cobains Rd, at 8.37pm, and it was declared under control by 8.49pm.

Sale police believe the fire to be accidental, and an investigation was not launched.

The fire caused no damage.