Hazy skies over Gippsland

Poor air quality warnings were issued last week across the Latrobe Valley ahead of what is about to become one of the busiest periods of the year for local firies.

As of 1am this morning the fire danger rating was lifted for all parts of Gippsland, including the Latrobe Valley, signalling the start of planned burns and burn-offs across regional Victoria.

The poor air quality warnings were a result of fine particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5, caused by smoke from nearby planned burns which can cause irrigation to the lungs.

Environment Protection Authority executive director Tim Eaton said residents in the Latrobe Valley had shown a lot of concern about the visible smoke and hazy conditions.

“We measure about six different air pollutants and most of those have been pretty good except for the PM 2.5, which has led to us releasing air quality warnings,” Mr Eaton said.

“That triggers health alerts for sensitive groups which includes the very old and very young, babies and people with pre-existing breathing conditions.”

Mr Eaton said it was important for at-risk groups to stay indoors and limit exercise activity.

“Given we’re in a valley those fine particulates tend to impact the Latrobe Valley more compared to other regions across the state.”

Forest Fire Management Victoria told The Express on Friday that it would take every opportunity to conduct planned burns while weather was suitable.

“Burns are planned, or have been ignited from Noojee, Neerim East and Boolarra through to Rosedale, Briagolong, Dargo, Bruthen, Buchan, Nowa Nowa, Orbost and Bendo,” Assistant Chief Fire Officer Chris Stephenson said

“The program will focus on reducing fuels close to communities, with larger burns in more remote areas to moderate bushfire behaviour.”

He said the planned burns would coincide with an integrated approach to reduce fire risk on public and private land.

For more information on air quality phone the EPA on1300 372 842 or visit epa.vic.gov.au

For planned burns visit ffm.vic.gov.au/plannedburn