Rain limits fire risk but danger in grass

GRASS fires, rather than bushfires, will be the main danger for North East residents this summer, experts say.

That is despite the prediction of an “average” fire season.

Healthy amounts of winter rain have created undergrowth which, once dry, could pose real problems should a fire start.

Country Fire Authority Hume operations manager Peter O’Keefe said an average season didn’t mean no fires.

“It means in the course of the fire danger period, there will be large grass fires,” Mr O’Keefe said.

“We don’t want the public to become complacent because we’re saying it’s going to be an average year ... grass fires will happen.”

Grass fires are deadly and burn quicker than bushfires.

They have been known to go from the outskirts of a town to destroying homes in an instant.

Mr O’Keefe issued the warning in Wangaratta yesterday at the first of two CFA and Department of Sustainability and Environment bushfire briefings.

The briefings are to inform authorities, including Parks Victoria and Victoria Police, of blanket changes to preparing and handling bushfires for the season ahead.

One change is the relocation of two fixed-wing bombers from Albury to Mansfield and Wangaratta and a helicopter from Benalla to Shepparton.

DSE land and fire North East regional manager Alan Dobson said relocating the aircraft was a proactive move before summer.

“These aircrafts play an important part in that initial knock down of the early stages of a fire,” Mr Dobson said.

“It’s important to get to fires quickly so by doing this we’ve maintained a better spread.”

Mr Dobson and Mr O’Keefe, guest speakers at the briefing, said it was time people got their bushfire plans ready.

“It’s not too late... but you’d want to start making it a priority,” Mr O’Keefe said.

To make a bushfire plan call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

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