Fire outlook upgraded for central Victoria

Extensive spring growth is beginning to dry out and will fuel fires this summer, the state’s emergency services commissioner warns. 

Ballarat firefighters have already attended a number of grass fires in recent days and are warning residents to prepare ahead of a late, but hot summer. 

Emergency Management Victoria says the latest outlook shows central and western Victoria will be the most vulnerable parts of the state during the fire season. 

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC released the changes in response to recent weather conditions, including above average rainfall and expected above average temperatures from November to January.  

A departure from longer term drying trends is countered by close to ideal growing conditions for crops and pasture. 

 Above average rain across the state over the last six months has yielded above average or well above average grass fuel, with prolific grass growth in the state’s north and in some central and south western areas growth has been limited until now by cooler than normal conditions. 

The emergence of widespread fire risk from grass curing is likely to occur later than usual.

This may mean crop harvesting in northern and western areas coincides with more severe or extreme fire danger, while expected milder temperatures and available soil moisture near to the south west coast may see curing delayed until February. Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said Victorians could expect a more traditional season this year with fire risk to peak during January and February. 

“There is considerable grass growth across the state and as this dries out with the warmer weather, it will become very flammable.”