Long, hot summer awaits Valley

LATROBE Valley’s fire season has started much earlier than usual and residents are being urged to put in place their prevention plans now.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, who visited Morwell to speak with emergency management workers this week, said the farming community had indicated Gippsland was dry four to six weeks earlier than normal.

“The central and western corner of Gippsland is a dry, dry place. We shouldn’t underestimate that,” Mr Lapsley said yesterday.

“People should take heed of that and bring their actions forward… October and early November is the time to do that.”

The region has already seen its share of fires this month, with Tuesday, 6 October a particularly volatile day with 17 fires across the Latrobe Valley.

The temperature in the Valley has already exceeded 30 degrees on five days in October and there has been little rainfall.

“It’s an early (fire) season and with the forecast to be a long, hot summer there’s potential to have fires earlier, which we’re already seeing,” Mr Lapsley said

He said it was essential households planned equally early for the fire season.

Mr Lapsley highlighted two key aspects to a good fire plan: physically preparing the property in the coming weeks to ensure it’s free of potential fire fuel, and having an emergency plan in the event of fire.

“Have that discussion with the family now (because) there’s nothing worse than smoke and fire being everywhere and having to think about what you’re going to do,” he said. “Think about it early and it allows you to think in the calmest way possible.”

Mr Lapsley met with Gippsland emergency management workers from SES, CFA, police, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on Tuesday night and said they were well prepared for the fire season.

For information about how to plan and prepare for the fire season, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare and to learn about current incidents visit emergency.vic.gov.au