YESTERDAY’S scenario was set — a fast moving grass fire was burning in the Killawarra Forest to the north of residents in the Killawarra locality.
With the make-believe fire spreading towards the Ovens River, residents were advised by the Country Fire Authority to evacuate and practise procedures including wearing protective clothing, packing important documents and medicines and then drive themselves, their family members, pets and even neighbours to a rendezvous point at Wangaratta.
Killawarra CFA captain Ian Sheldrick said 140 households in the region had received notification of yesterday’s bushfire evacuation trial as part of CFA Sunday, but no more than 20 people arrived at Wangaratta to join a workshop to discuss their fire plans.
Mr Sheldrick said the response was disappointing and he was expecting about three times that number.
He said it might indicate the need for smaller workshops and knocking on doors to convey the message about the risk of bush and grass fires at Killawarra.
Mr Sheldrick said the fire danger was present even during the weekend’s cooler con- ditions.
In the past fortnight there had been a significant grass fire at Killawarra needing five tankers to manage it.
Mr Sheldrick’s wife Sue, a CFA community safety officer, took the residents at the workshop through a further evacuation scenario, aided by a diorama that became the Killawarra Forest and the surrounding locale.
She urged residents to consider not only their own families but also assist in the evacuation of those without a vehicle or unable to drive.
“Something we learned from Black Saturday is that among those who died was a prevalence of those who were young children, older people and those with a disability,” she said.
“People from these groups may be your neighbours.”
Mrs Sheldrick said in fire emergencies, people may not necessarily receive an evacuation warning.
They should act immediately on any warning to evacuate rather than waiting for other family to return home, she said.
Editorial — page 12