A group of Mount Clear residents have raised the alarm on dangerous grass and weed growth in their neighbourhood, which they said could spell doom in the wrong conditions.
Tinworth Avenue, which borders the Crown land Yarrowee pine plantation area managed by gold-mining company Castlemaine Goldfields, is densely lined with metre-high grasses and gorse and undergrowth reaching two to three metres tall.
Rick Pope, who lives at the top of Mansfield Avenue, Bruce Pearson of Hale Avenue and Barry Orchard of Tinworth Avenue are worried the land could easily go up in flames on a hot day.
And if that blaze sparked up with a north-westerly wind, Mr Pope said the neighbourhood, only 30 metres away from the growth, would be in the firing line.
He said the gorse had become a serious danger since a fire a few years ago that had encouraged the seeding and growth of the insidious weed.
“The fuel load here is tremendous,” he said.
“Years ago there was a wildfire on New Year’s Eve, about four years ago. It started just to the north of Tinworth Avenue and Whitehorse Road. Where it burnt before Whitehorse Road, the gorse has come back at a tremendous rate.
“If there was a fire with a north-westerly wind, it would blow into the residential area at an enormous rate.”
He said although much of the growth was still green, it would still lead to disaster during a fire.
Stephen Jeffers, Castlemaine Goldfields Victoria general manager, said the company had already fulfilled its growth and weed removal requirements for the year.
“Castlemaine Goldfields has recently completed its annual slashing program that was developed in consultation with the Ballarat City Council’s fire prevention officer and the CFA,” he said.
However, Mr Pope said the slashing work undertaken had barely scratched the surface.
“They’ve done a slash here, but it’s been on no value,” he said, pointing to some slashed, trackside grass.
“Because of the lack of maintenance, it’s difficult to fix without damaging the pine trees.
“We just hope we don’t have kids like they do in Sebastopol throwing matches around.”
Mr Pope said because of the extent of the growth, a bulldozer would be required – not just slashing.
The issue is not isolated to Mount Clear. Earlier this week, The Courier reported similar grass concerns on Albert Street, Creswick.