IT might seem lush and green around Ballarat, but with a dryer than usual spring expected, Victoria’s emergency management services are well into preparations for a dangerous fire season.
The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook suggests the fire season in Victoria is likely to start earlier and be more active than usual.
In Victoria’s west and central regions, which Ballarat is in, rain has kept ground moisture relatively high but it has the potential to dry out quickly under dry and warm conditions which are predicted throughout spring.
CFA District 15 operations officer Chris Bigham said people should be well into preparations for the upcoming fire season.
“If the weather changes dramatically and they are caught out, it could be devastating,” he said.
“It does look green out there in the moment, but fires can still start at anytime and people need to be aware of that. If you get to the start of the fire season and you’re not prepared, it’s too late.”
But while the central and western districts have had almost average rainfall over winter, after a dry autumn, it is a different story for other parts of the state who are enduring drought conditions
Bureau of Meteorology spring outlook forecasts the next three months to have an increased drought and heatwave potential compared to previous years.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the outlook was an early indication of what Victoria could expect in the summer season.
“The severity of the fire season will depend on a number of factors, including the amount, location and timing of rain in the months leading up to summer,” he said.
Mr Crisp said while Victoria’s traditional period of increased fire activity was January and February, the outlook suggests there was uncertainty around when fires will occur.
“Fires in south west Victoria in March this year and in East Gippsland in August are examples of significant fires outside of the traditional period for Victoria,” he said.
“The agencies will be keeping an eye on any change in conditions.
“The outlook is a good early indication of what we will expect in the upcoming summer season and will be updated in November as predictions firm up.”
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.