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Dry conditions could see increased fire activity in Victoria

2 September 2015

Emergency management agencies will begin to prepare for the season ahead as the latest outlook for Southern Australia predicts a long, hot and dry summer, driven by a strengthening El Nino weather pattern.

The Southern Australia Seasonal Outlook 2015-16, released by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC yesterday, indicates that most of Victoria will see an ‘above normal’ season, due to a lack of rain and drying conditions across southern Australia.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the climate forecast indicated Victoria could potentially see its summer season start earlier than usual.

“This is an early warning to Victorians to carry out fire prevention works in October and November. Preparing early will be critical as it’s likely the season will be upon us from December and through to February,” Mr Lapsley said.

“An above normal season means that there is a potential for increased fire activity and while we don’t want to scare Victorians, we do want to give people the information and tools they need to keep safe.

“Summer is not just about the potential for fire. It’s about heat health, road and water safety and they will be important messages over the summer months as many Victorians take time out to holiday and travel across the state.”

Mr Lapsley said areas of particular risk this year were in parts of central and western Victoria, which had seen record-low rainfall.

“This includes Horsham, Ballarat, Bendigo and surrounding areas, but there is also a risk around high population areas on the outskirts of Melbourne and where the bush interfaces with housing and built up areas,” he said.

Heading into summer, emergency management agencies and departments will also be taking steps to prepare, with 17 pre-season briefings planned for September and October. The briefings include exercises and discussion around fire, heat and multi-agency readiness, response and recovery and involve personnel from CFA, MFB, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, SES, Ambulance Victoria, Victoria Police and local government.

Victoria will also have 47 aircraft on hand to support on the ground emergency management personnel during summer, including two Large Air Tankers (LATs) which were part of the state’s airfleet for the first time last year. The LATs were a great addition to the airfleet last year and also assisted with fires interstate, completing 81 drops of fire retardant on fires across Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

The full seasonal outlook report is at