16 December 2019
Parts of the Wimmera and Mallee and East and West Gippsland are forecast to experience above-normal bushfire potential over the summer, according to the update of the Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, released today.
The outlook suggests that above-normal bushfire activity will continue across the coastal and foothill areas of East and West Gippsland, across to the Great Dividing Range, however this now extends west to also includes the Central Goldfields, which takes in parts of the Wimmera and Mallee.
This is due to above average temperatures drying out grasslands and forests over the last three months coupled with three years of significant rainfall deficit in much of East Gippsland and across the Divide. While there has been spring rain in the south, much of inland Victoria received insufficient rainfall and as a result, soil moisture is lower compared to the long-term average.
When grasses and crops are close to fully dry, there is a very high potential for fire behavior to rapidly escalate under elevated fire weather conditions.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said there was no room for Victorians to be complacent about their fire risk this summer.
“We’re only at the start of summer and we have five significant fires burning across the state, mainly in Gippsland. These fires were a result of our Code Red day on 21 November, where we had 150 fire starts across the state.
“This week will be a challenge for us – temperatures are forecast to be in the 40s for a number of days in the north and high 30s and into the 40s forecast for Melbourne this week.
“The heat and elevated fire danger will put pressure on our current fires. Our firefighters, on the ground and in the air, as well as heavy machinery operators are working really hard on these fires, but we need the community to do their part.
“It’s critical that if you live, work or are on the move to new areas, you must know where you are in relation to these existing fires because conditions can change very quickly. It’s also important to stay informed of any new fires or emergencies, listen to information and warnings and be ready to enact your plan.
“Stay informed by downloading the VicEmergency app and set up a watch zone for where you are or where you are going. We’ll do everything we can to keep communities safe, but we need the community to do their part, because staying safe over summer is a shared responsibility.”
In Victoria, you can get emergency information from a number of sources including the VicEmergency app, emergency.vic.gov.au, tuning in to ABC radio or other emergency broadcasters including commercial and community radio stations, or Sky TV, or by phoning the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 and following VicEmergency on Facebook and Twitter.
The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook is developed by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre with Bureau of Meteorology and relevant state fire and land managers, and can be found online .