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Victoria’s fire season officially ends

AS fire restrictions finish in the final parts of Victoria today, CFA has urged residents across the state to exercise extreme caution when burning off.

CFA Chief Officer and CEO Steve Warrington said the Fire Danger Period was officially over in Victoria at 1am yesterday.

CFA’s District six, which takes in Corangamite and Colac Otway shires, was the last area to finish the Fire Danger Period.

Mr Warrington said it marked the official end to an unprecedented bushfire season that started with the first Fire Danger Period being announced in East Gippsland on September 23, last year – the second earliest time in history.

Two months later, Victoria’s first Code Red day in almost 10 years was announced for the Mallee and Northern Country on November 21.

On that day, several large fires that burnt for months broke out when a lightning storm moved across Victoria.

By the time these fires were deemed under control at the end of March, more than 1.5 million hectares of land had burnt in Victoria and five people had tragically lost their lives.

The bushfires devastated much of East Gippsland, including Mallacoota, where thousands of residents and tourists huddled on the beach while the fire front passed over the New Year’s period.

They also impacted large parts of Victoria’s North East, including Corryong.

“I am incredibly proud of our organisation and the broader emergency sector for the way we worked together this season to save lives and property,” Mr Warrington said.

“I also want to thank the community for heeding the message when told to leave areas at risk of high fire impact – it no doubt saved many, many lives.

“Community members abiding by fire restrictions also helped prevent further fires from starting during this period, which was extremely important as we dealt with these large fires sparked by natural causes.”

Last week, there were more than 1200 private landowner burn-offs registered, some of which had been registered with an open date, which mean that the landowner will conduct the burn over more than one day or when conditions are suitable.

Mr Warrington reminded Victorians that it was important to check local conditions on the day of any burn-off they were considering undertaking.

“Conditions can change quickly and fires can get out of control within minutes in dry and windy conditions,” he said.

“The effects of an out-of-control fire can be devastating and we want everyone to exercise extreme caution.”

CFA also reminds people to always register their burn-offs so Triple Zero (000) operators know what is happening in the area.

Landowners can register their burn-off with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing [email protected]

“CFA’s firefighters have had an extremely busy season and are now dealing with the threat of the coronavirus. We ask that landowners register burn-offs to help reduce the risk of CFA brigades being called out unnecessarily if a member of the public calls about smoke or a fire in the area,” Mr Warrington said.

He added that people should never leave a burn-off unattended as it’s the resident’s responsibility to ensure that it does not get out of control.

“If a burn off does get out of control, call ‘000’ immediately. People should have a fire plan and prepare for the event of fire, and never be complacent.”

Keep your burn off safe and legal.

Check fire restrictions in your area and always register your burn on 1800 668 511.

Check and monitor weather conditions – particularly wind; Warn your neighbours beforehand that there will be smoke in the air.

Leave a three-metre fire break, free from flammable materials around the burn.

Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.

Never leave a burn-off unattended – stay for its entire duration.

If your burn-off gets out of control, call ‘000’ immediately.

For more information about burning off, go to cfa.vic.gov.au/burnoff.