East Ballarat fire fears as weeds left to grow

THE City of Ballarat has issued more than 350 fire prevention notices to property owners this season but it didn’t help Ballarat East resident Les Deane when the mercury soared to 40 degrees this week.

As crews battled fires across the state, a vacant block abutting Mr Deane’s house was covered in dry grass nearly two metres high.

The owner of the Eureka Street block was issued with a fire prevention notice by the council on January 8. 

But the notice is not due to expire until January 22 – the earliest the council can send contractors to carry out the work at the landowner’s expense.

Mr Deane said he had phoned the council four times about the block in the lead-up to yesterday’s total fire ban.

He believes all it would take is a cigarette thrown from a passing car to ignite the site and burn down the surrounding houses.

“It abuts my property and two others,” he said.

As of yesterday, the council had already issued 353 fire prevention notices.

But it also sent 2100 pre-season advice letters in November to all vacant land owners within the City of Ballarat.

Fire prevention notices are issued when the fuel load on a property is considered a fire risk.

Property owners have a minimum of 14 days to perform the required works or face big penalties including a $1444 fine plus costs.

The number of notices issued is still down on last year, when 500 notices were sent out over the entire season.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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