28 August 2019
East and West Gippsland will be a focus for emergency services this coming summer, as very dry conditions over consecutive years results in an above-normal bushfire conditions.
The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, developed by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre with Bureau of Meteorology and relevant state fire and land managers, was released today in Melbourne.
Similar to last year, the outlook indicates Victoria will have a 'normal' fire season, however, in East and West Gippsland, extending to the Great Dividing Range, conditions appear to be above normal.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the outlook was an early indication of what Victoria could expect in the summer season.
“The severity of fires in Victoria will still depend on several factors including the amount, location and timing of rain in the months leading up to and including over summer,” he said.
“Much of Gippsland has now experienced three consecutive years of significant low rainfall in autumn and winter.”
Most farmers in the west of the state can expect increased pasture and cropping due to winter rain.
With drier conditions also likely, there is a risk that ash forests in the Central Highlands and Otways may dry out faster increasing the risk over summer.
Forest Fire Management Victoria Acting Chief Fire Officer Chris Eagle said emergency management agencies would 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 later in the year as predictions firm up.”
CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said summer in Victoria means there will be fires.
“We will again work with all our communities to help keep them safe. We also urge our farmers across the state to take care while harvesting and storing crops and hay in the coming months to avoid fires caused by machinery and self-combusting haystacks.”
Mr Crisp said the emergency management sector was preparing ahead of the summer season.
“Pre-season briefings for emergency management personnel will begin to rollout across Victoria so our people understand the outlook, know the risks and are prepared to respond to emergencies, and work with communities,” he said.
“While emergency management agencies are preparing, it’s also important the community understands their own risk and is actively preparing. This is a shared responsibility.”
The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook is published by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC) and can be found online .
In Victoria, you can get emergency information from a number of sources including the VicEmergency app, emergency.vic.gov.au, tuning in to ABC radio or other emergency broadcasters including commercial and community radio stations or Sky TV, or by phoning the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 and following VicEmergency on Facebook and Twitter.