THE first fire restrictions for 2019 are now in force in selected parts of the Wimmera and Southern Mallee.
Yarriambiack (North) entered into the Fire Danger Period on October 14, while restrictions for West Wimmera (Northern), Hindmarsh and Yarriambiack (Cental) will start on November 11.
Country Fire Authority District 17 operations manager Craig Brittain said there was an abundance in roadside fuel growth due to good rainfall during winter.
"As fuel loads quickly dry out with the warmer weather and strong winds, the risk of fire is increasing," he said.
"It is incumbent on all members of our communities to ensure we undertake preparation to limit the risk of fires starting, limit the chance of fires taking hold and limit the spread of fires.
"Whilst we know crops and grasses are drying out, bushland is already dry and susceptible to fires, which is a concern.
"While the CFA and its partner agencies Parks Victoria, Forest Fire Management, and Emergency Management Victoria are doing everything we can to prepare for the bushfire season, we look to the community to use common sense and take responsibility for preventing fires."
Mr Brittain said there was still a short window of opportunity to clean up around properties.
"People need to be aware that if using fire to clean up around their properties they need to register these on 1800 668 511. So far this year, out-of-control burn-offs and unregistered burn-offs have already caused unnecessary call-outs to for brigades," Mr Brittain said.
"You should not burn off when winds are high or high winds are forecast - not only on the day of your burn but for the days afterwards. For information about burn-off restrictions specific to your area, consult your local council."
He said once the Fire Danger Period came into effect, the CFA had a zero-tolerance approach to any fires that had started from negligent behaviour.
"Expect any fire you start to be fully investigated by CFA and Victoria Police," he said.
Last month the CFA issued a haystack fire warning to growers after a spate of haystack fires last season.
CFA District 17 commander Lindsay Barry said haystack fires were always a major concern for the CFA.
"There was a significant increase in haystack fires last year, from stand alone bales to huge piles of bales worth thousands of dollars," he said.
Mr Barry said high rainfalls earlier in the year meant there was more growth in paddocks.
"The amount of hay that is being cut will of course make a big impact on how many haystack fires we have. It's looking like there will be less hay cut this year," he said.
CFA crews attended 83 haystack fires last season across the state, with many occurring in western Victoria. Since 2008, the CFA has responded to more than 1500 haystack fires.
About the Fire Danger Period:
THE CFA does issue permits for certain situations during the FDP. However, there are very strict conditions attached to these permits and the liability sits with the permit holder to ensure they always act safely.
During the Fire Danger Period, fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a Municipal Fire Prevention Officer.
A written permit is required to burn off grass, undergrowth, weeds or other vegetation during the Fire Danger Period. This permit may be issued by the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer or the CFA District Office.
Lighting a fire in the open without a permit is an offence and can bring a penalty of over $19,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment. Barbecues and fires for cooking and warmth do not require a permit, but must be lit in properly constructed fireplaces.
The use of an incinerator, chainsaw/lawn mower, welding/grinding equipment and vehicles that come in contact with vegetation and machinery with an internal combustion/heat engine are permitted provided conditions are followed.
Mr Brittain said more information on the Fire Danger Period was available on the CFA's website.
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