CSIRO, CFA volunteers light grassfire for research in paddock

A GRASSFIRE tore through an open paddock near the Ballarat airport yesterday.

Moving at more than 30 metres a minute in the open field, the fire was far from out of control but gave a direct warning of dangers in coming months as a hot spell hits the Ballarat region.

The small blaze, monitored by CFA volunteers, was part of groundbreaking research by the CSIRO that determined how fast grassfires can move in different conditions.

The CSIRO has spent about two weeks at the airport, lighting fires to see how quickly they burn in different conditions or “cured grasses”.

At the site, different 30-metre lots have been prepared with varying degrees of dryness to assess the speed in which fires move.

CSIRO bushfire scientist Jim Gould said two different scenarios were in use yesterday.

“We’ve been very surprised how green the grass is and how rapidly the fires have been spreading,” he said.

CFA research and innovation manager David Nichols said the data that had been collected would be of great assistant to the CFA.

“The movement of the fires is much more rapid that what we have seen in the past,” he said.

“Much of the state is 100 per cent cured at the moment and that is going to continue spreading.”

Crews expect to have one more burning day the site.