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Victoria can expect an increased risk of grassfire this season while late spring drying has the potential to escalate bushfire behaviour in forested areas in late summer.

The highest risk will be across central and western Victoria in both grass and bush areas.

The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook was released today in Brisbane and is used by fire authorities and emergency agencies to make strategic decisions about bushfire preparedness.

Developed by the Bureau of Meteorology in conjunction with fire and land managers, the seasonal outlook predicts Victoria’s bushfire season to start later than in previous years with the potential for fire risk to increase in January and February.

Above average winter and spring rainfall combined with warmer temperatures is likely to result in extensive grass growth in the urban interface, increasing the risk of grass fire.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said fire preparedness would need to focus on western and central Victoria including the urban interface areas.

“With increased rain and higher temperatures leading to considerable grass growth it will be critical for people living in interface areas to be prepared, and to be prepared early,” he said.

“This means the community needs to plan for fire prevention works and take action to complete the works before summer commences.

“Strong grass growth will prompt the need to consider a two stage management process this season, that is the first phase beginning in November with follow up works in December and January as there will be significant regrowth.

“It will be important that we start early this season rather than risk leaving preparedness to the last minute when it’s too late.”

“Grass fires can start unexpectedly, they are fast-moving and can have significant impacts. We need to make sure we are prepared this summer.”

Mr Lapsley said the seasonal outlook also predicted an increase in bushfire risk across forested areas later on in summer.

“Victoria is a bushfire prone area, and we will continue to experience significant fires. What’s important is how we plan and prepare for this, how we respond and make the critical decisions and how we build resilience so we can more easily recover.

“We’re in this together and it’s about community, government, agencies and business working as one to build safer and more resilient communities”

The seasonal outlook expects the fire potential across Victoria to be:

  • Below normal for East Gippsland due to above average rainfall
  • Normal for Far East Gippsland and the Murray Valley
  • Late fire behaviour is expected across west and south Gippsland, including Melbourne’s water catchments and across most of the south west.
  • Above normal for the eastern Otway Ranges, Brisbane Ranges, Wombat Forest and dry forest areas bordering Victoria’s box iron bark belt.

The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for southern Australia is published by the Bushfire and National Hazards CRC and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC).

Download the full Southern Australia Bushfire Season Outlook 2016  (PDF 1MB).

Source: Victorian bushfire outlook released | Emergency Management Victoria