MORE than 14,000 hectares of Wimmera land will be burnt in autumn as part of the Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ increased planned burns program.
Department Wimmera district land and fire manager Russell Manning said the Grampians bushfire had changed the burning schedule.
“We had five burns planned in that area in the next three years,” he said.
“That included burns at Wartook north and south, the Grampians Plantation area and Serra Range.
“All of those areas were burnt by the Grampians fire.”
Mr Manning said the department would complete 17 planned burns in autumn.
“Another two or three are already partly completed – so in total there are about 20 burns in the Wimmera during the next two months,” he said.
He said the department burnt more than 10,000 hectares as part of the spring burning program.
“It was a good spring burning and we completed a large area,” he said.
The department burnt 8000 hectares of Wimmera land in 2012-13.
Mr Manning said planned burns started south of Kaniva last week.
“We started with a small burn, about 36 hectares – it went well and there were no control issues,” he said.
“Ideally, before we start larger burns, we would like to see some rain.
“Hopefully if we get enough rain in the next week or so, it would allow us to commence the autumn program.”
Department chief fire officer Alan Goodwin said the department was committed to implementing an increased planned burning program, as recommended by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
“Now, as temperatures drop, our attention will turn to doing planned burns to reduce bushfire risk to people, communities and the environment,” he said.
“This summer we have seen fires that have started in remote areas like the Mallee and have continued to burn for weeks.
“This is why planned burning will target not just burns close to towns, but also remoter area burns.”
Mr Goodwin said the weather would influence where burns were done.
“What we are focusing on is making sure that we have burns planned and prepared so they are ready to go when conditions are right,” he said.
“Given it is still close to summer, people might be concerned if they see smoke, but they shouldn’t call 000 unless they see flames and no fire crews.”