AUTHORITIES are calling for Wimmera residents to begin preparations now ahead of a bushfire season that could arrive earlier than normal.
Country Fire Association District 17 operations manager Craig Brittain said Horsham had recorded below average rain during winter.
He said this might lead to a classification of the bushfire season as early as October.
“Information from the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast signals there will be an early bushfire season at this stage,” he said. “The forecast indicates at this stage that we will face a longer, hotter and drier summer.
“At the start of September we will have more concrete evidence about the approaching bushfire season.”
Country Fire Authority District 16 operations manager Bernie Fradd said the bushfire season might start early in the north of the state, including towns such as St Arnaud. But he said Ararat had received average rain during winter to date.
“There is no indication at this stage for an early bushfire season in Ararat,” he said. “The bushfire season may start in Ararat in early November.”
Mr Fradd said now was the time for people to start preparing for the bushfire season. He said people could start to remove leaves from gutters and keep logs of wood away from houses, among other jobs.
“There’s more information on the Country Fire Authority’s website about how to prepare for the bushfire season,” Mr Fradd said.
Forest Fire Management Victoria has started recruiting project firefighters for summer.
Forest Fire Management Victoria acting assistant chief fire officer Peter Kambouris said frontline forest firefighters would be an important addition.
“This fire season, Forest Fire Management Victoria will have over 1000 frontline forest firefighters – supported by a further 2000 staff from across Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and VicForests – who all have fire roles in addition to their normal duties,” he said.
Forest Fire Management Victoria will employ 50 additional firefighters for work across the state.
“All forecasts suggest there will be an early bushfire season in the Wimmera,” he said. “The Grampians region has a moisture deficit – particularly in the Wimmera.”