15 January 2018
Just six months into 2017-18, Victorians experienced a range of emergencies including urban fringe fires, extreme weather, the Flinders Street incident and a balcony collapse.
From 1 July to 31 December there were 2660 grass and scrub and bushfires with more than 23,250 hectares burnt.
SES received just over 14,840 requests for assistance, with the majority for building damage and trees down.
Tragically there were 10 drowning deaths, with 14 rescues being performed.
The Victorian community was warned 1216 times, including all clear messages, with one emergency warning issued and 136 community updates sent out.
In July a fire at the Coolaroo Recycling Plant kept local and interstate crews busy for 19 days. The smoke from this fire significantly impacted the community, leading to the relocation of 22 people.
In the same month 235 Australians (26 Victorians) were deployed to British Columbia across almost 70 days to assist in the wildfires. From 1 April to 21 September there were 1263 fires that burnt an estimated 1.2 million hectares.
There was a second deployment in October to California where 34 Victorians provided much needed relief for local crews, fulfilling liaison and firefighting roles for 17 days.
SES crews responded to a statewide wind event in July that saw more than 1100 requests for assistance, a significant rain event on the first day of summer saw 2814 requests for assistance, and an extreme weather event just before Christmas on 19 December resulted in 1734 requests for assistance and led to 105,000 power outages at the peak of the storm.
In December, emergency services responded to a balcony collapse at a property in Doncaster East. A total of 17 people were injured and sadly two people died. In the same month on 21 December, there was a deliberate act of violence where a group of pedestrians were hit on Flinders Street. There were 20 people hospitalised following the incident and one person died.
Another fire significance in the last six months was on Melbourne’s fringe at Cheltenham. A ‘prepare to evacuate’ was issued with residents on Glebe Avenue evacuated by Victoria Police. The fire affected the nearby Cheltenham Primary School causing fence, gate and shed damage. The fire also entered the neighbouring cemetery.
Victorian emergency management agencies will continue to work together in all future emergencies.