The Country Fire Authority is reminding the community not to be complacent about the risk of fires this summer despite a wet spring.
The Ballarat region recorded a wetter-than-average October and the average November rainfall was recorded in the first two weeks of the month, with more expected to come.
It is resulting in continued grass growth, which will dry out with warmer temperatures in summer and create an elevated risk of grass fires.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer for District 15, Eddie Lacko, warned that people should not be complacent about the fire risk despite the recent weather conditions.
"Although we have had significant rain and that will potentially continue, now's not the time to be complacent," he said.
It comes as a total fire ban was put in place in the Mallee region on Thursday with hot and windy weather on the radar.
"Although it remains wet here it can change very, very quickly," ACFO Lacko said.
He said it was predicted that conditions seen last fire season, with significant grass fires in the north and west of the state, would be similar this year.
"Vegetation across the district is currently very green however, recent severe storms have changed the fuel arrangement on the ground in a number of areas.
"We have seen a great deal of trees that have come down or uprooted along with defoliation of vegetation due to high winds that will also alter the fire behaviour this summer, potentially increasing severity.
"Importantly, the rain received is pushing vegetation growth into the abundant range and I urge the community to start their preparations if you haven't already."
This includes keeping grass cut short, cleaning out gutters, removing flammable items and materials from around the house and ensuring bushfire survival plans were prepared and ready to be enacted if required.
He said unregistered and out-of-control burn-offs had already caused unnecessary callouts to brigades and urged people to check and monitor weather conditions, not burn off in windy conditions on the day or days after the burn.
It comes as the fire danger period has been announced to begin in the region from 1:00am on December 13 in the City of Ballarat, Hepburn, Golden Plains and Moorabool shires.
An important factor in this decision is the expected influx of tourists to the area in coming weeks.
"They will set up camp sites along rivers and other places so it's about making sure that they do so in accordance with the rules in the fire danger period," ACFO Lacko said.
This includes making sure campfires are only lit in contained areas.
Firefighters across the region have been busy planning for the season ahead, including brushing up on their training ahead of summer.
"They're prepared for the summer period and what may lay ahead but there's also the added layer of COVID and we are making sure they are all compliant as well."
During the Fire Danger Period firefighters will have a zero-tolerance approach to fires caused by negligent behaviour.
Once it comes into effect it mines fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit.
"Expect any escaped or uncontrolled fire you start to be investigated by CFA and Victoria Police," ACFO Lacko said.
For more information visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au
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