Authorities brace for fire season as Otways dry out

State Emergency Service’s assistant chief commissioner Cain Trist, Forest Fire Management Victoria’s Michael Harper and Country Fire Authority’s Rohan Luke joined other SES, FFMV, CFA, Parks Victoria and Victoria Police personnel at Winchelsea for a pre-summer briefing.

Fire experts say the Otways will soon be at risk of burning, despite decent winter rain.

Emergency services gathered at Winchelsea’s Eastern Reserve yesterday for a pre-summer briefing, which provided the CFA, State Emergency Service, Forest Fire Management Victoria, Victoria Police, Parks Victoria and councils with a detailed presentation on the conditions expected over summer.

FFMV’s Michael Harper said that although emergency services had previously predicted an average fire season for the Otway district, a dry cycle which would likely last from now until summer’s end would result in the Otways forest rapidly drying out.

“The purpose of today is to communicate lessons learnt from last year’s busy fire season, if there’s any changes to the standard operating procedures that we work under, to go through what the seasonal conditions look like at the moment and what the bureau is forecasting ahead,” he said yesterday.

“The seasonal outlook is changing; we had reasonable winter rainfall but now we’re going into a drying cycle, we had low September rainfall and the outlook is for dry conditions right through until summer now.

“Right at the moment, the main thing will be that while the grass is green, the forest is drying really quickly, so the forest fuels will be available to burn reasonably soon, if not already.”

Mr Harper said FFMV had no more planned burns organised before summer, although it would take opportunities to burn if it could.

CFA assistant chief officer Rohan Luke urged Colac and district residents not to be complacent this summer, reminding people that residents of city, township or urban areas could still be affected by bushfires.

“We ask residents to enact a fire safety plan for their properties,” he said.

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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