Vigilance crucial to keep everyone fire-safe in the Hepburn Shire

This region may come into its own with hot, humid weather predicted for later this week, enjoying a pleasant four to five degrees less than the sweltering Wimmera.  But as the weekend shows even this shouldn't be a reason to be complacent with lightning strikes starting at least one fire in the Lederderg Gorge.

The problem is the sudden tropical downpours may be keeping the countryside green but it is also swelling the growth and sooner or later this will dry out and a lightning storm could have much more dire consequences.

With temperatures predicted to climb above 30 degrees Wednesday and Thursday,  this should be a reminder we are well and truly heading into the summer fire danger period.

It won’t be long too before the humidity disappears and the summer drys out grasslands, forests and farmland. Throw in a day of hot northerlies and the danger quickly will become extreme.

Each and every year, of course, firefighting authorities issue their warnings about the equally extreme care that we all need to take to prevent fires that, in the right conditions, can quickly take hold and gravely threaten life and property. The dangers may not change much from year to year, but the community can ill-afford to not have the message repeated over and over and over again.

The worst of these are where firefighters are called out to fires started by people who have ignored the very clear rules in place during the fire danger period, using machinery or even burning off.  The high risk days may not have started yet but it certainly wont be long.

It is crucial everyone is as vigilant as possible – and it’s something that has to continue now for several months. Police certainly have not hesitated to warn anyone who breaches these rules of the fire danger period will be prosecuted.

Making matters worse, the rain we have experienced is expected to create a sudden growth spurt in roadside grass and pastures.  Landowners will be playing catch-up and councils will be even further behind on roadsides. Another hot spell in December will simply increase the fuel load.

Central to the CFA’s warning is for people to do all they can to reduce fuel loads around their property, in order to ensure a fire “has less chance of taking hold or spreading”.  Time to act while we can.