Fire vigilance urged as heatwave hits region

A rapid response to a fire near Bushfield avoided a potential danger yesterday.

Four brigades scrambled to the blaze on the side of the road near Spring Flat Road and Hopkins Highway and had the blaze under control within 15 minutes, CFA district five acting operations manager Henry Barton said.

The fire occurred shortly before 1pm, just as temperatures topped the 40-degree mark in Warrnambool.

The south-west is today heading in to its second successive day of total fire ban.

“It was in the tall phalaris grass which made it a little bit difficult and quite smoky,” Mr Barton said. “We were quite lucky we were on top of it quite quickly.

“It was a standard response on this type of day where it’s really, really hot.”

The CFA, fire investigators and police attended the blaze. The cause of the small grass fire is still being determined. 

With hot temperatures expected for the rest of the week in the south-west, police have urged residents to be vigilant in reporting fires.

The CFA attended a fire in Illowa on Saturday evening after it was reported to triple 0.

Detective Senior Constable Wayne Ryan said the fire turned out to be a small burn-off on Illowa Road. Even though it was no danger of getting out of control, he encouraged the public to react quickly to suspected fires.

“In this high-risk fire period, anyone with any concerns in relation to suspicious activity or if they see smoke they should contact emergency services,” Detective Senior Constable Ryan said. 

“There’s no such thing as being too inquisitive or too efficacious. We don’t mind being called out.  If it’s a false report that’s fine as well.”

Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) have also warned campers and visitors to parks and forests across the state to be aware of fire warnings.

“We are in for a very hot week and ask people to stay safe and keep informed,” DEPI agency commander Gil Marshall said.

“Parks and forests are great places to be, but they can be hard to get into and hard to get out of so you need to make sure you are aware of what’s going on so you can act early.” 

Parks Victoria’s fire and emergency services manager Andrew Graystone said people should reconsider visiting parks and forests on days of extreme or severe fire danger.

“Some parks and picnic areas are regularly closed when the forecast fire danger rating is severe, extreme or code red,” Mr Graystone said.

“Bushfire safety is your responsibility and anyone entering parks and forests during the bushfire season needs to stay aware of forecast weather conditions and alert to signs of fire such as smoke or emergency vehicles.” For park closures and bushfire updates, visit www.parks.vic.gov.au or www.emergency.vic.gov.au or tune into ABC local radio.

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