IT felt like a dangerous fire day on Saturday as northerly winds sent the temperature into the 30s for the first day of summer.
And even though the region escaped relatively unscathed, a series of small fires which started in campsites throughout the western district have the CFA on guard with the mercury set to soar again later in the week.
This Friday is forecast to his 34 degrees in the Ballarat region, but most concerning is winds are expected to increase to 35km/h from the north before a dry change later in the day will see winds switch around.
CFA Region 15 operations officer Luke Kneebone said fires at the weekend, predominantly in the far west of the region near the Grampians, were most likely started by campers negligently leaving fires burning.
“We had a couple of fires in the region but we managed to get on top of them quickly,” he said.
“The message out of those is to remind people that the fire danger period has started for the municipalities.
“People need to know the rules during the fire danger period and what can be lit and what to do on total fire ban days.”
Mr Kneebone said one of the lesser known rules of campfires was that during the fire season they could only be lit if winds were less than 10km/h.
“It can be very difficult to judge as 10km/h is really not a lot of wind,” he said.
“But as a general rule of thumb, if leaves and twigs are rustling, then that means it’s probably more than 10km/h and you shouldn’t be lighting any.
“Also, you need to build an, at least, 30cm trench and make sure there are clearings of at least three metres in all directions around the campfire.
“Most importantly, you need to fully extinguish the fire in the evening and then make doubly sure in the morning before you leave the site.”
Fire fighting helicopters will be deployed throughout the state on Friday as the temperature increases.
While Ballarat’s unit will not be operational until next week, the Bacchus Marsh unit is operating and others will be deployed to trouble areas on the day if required.
Mr Kneebone said residents in outlying Ballarat suburbs such as Nerrina, Lucas and Smythes Creek needed to be aware of dangers of quick-spreading which could easily come into suburban areas.
“It’s important for people to have a plan for themselves and stay informed,” he said.
“Don’t just rely on information coming to you, get out and seek info through the CFA website, the VicEmergency App and hotline, and keep on local ABC radio.
“If you lose power, make sure you have batteries and tune into the ABC for up to date information.”
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