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Victorian fires generating smoke in the landscape

POSTED: 
10 March 2019

Victorians can expect smoke in Melbourne and across the Victorian landscape over the coming days as a result of multiple fires burning across the state.

Firefighters are working hard to control more than a dozen fires burning mostly in the east and south east of Victoria, which will take time and means there will be an increased level of smoke which might be unhealthy for some people.

As part of operations back burning is occurring to protect life and property.

Victoria’s State Response Controller Stephanie Rotarangi said there was a significant amount of work for firefighters to do over the coming weeks.

“Controlling these fires is not easy. Some are burning in very difficult terrain, in hard to access areas and are also very large in size, such as the Licola fire at 64,000ha,” she said.

“One of the most effective ways to control these fires is to do back burning. While we understand this means an increased level of smoke, it is an essential operation that is necessary to strengthen containment lines and protect communities.”

EPA Chief Environmental Scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood said people who had been exposed to smoke in the region for several days or where it has been very strong should try to find any space that offered respite, even for a short time.

“The smoke spread is large now and it might be difficult to access a convenient space, like an indoor shopping complex, that might give some respite, but if you can get out of the smoke, I strongly recommend you take a break,” Dr Hinwood said.

“Those with pre-existing illness in particular should do what they can, follow their treatment plan, get some respite and if you are feeling unwell seek medical assistance.”

Smoke can affect people's health. People over 65, children 14 years and younger, pregnant women and those with existing heart or lung conditions should reduce prolonged or heavy physical activity. Where possible, these people should also limit the time spent outdoors.

Anyone with a heart or lung condition should take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan.

If you need medical advice for exposure to smoke, seek medical advice or call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024. Anyone experiencing wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing should call Triple Zero.

Victorians are reminded to connect to multiple sources for emergency information, including the VicEmergency app, www.emergency.vic.gov.au, tuning in to ABC radio or other emergency broadcasters including commercial and community radio stations or Sky TV or by phoning the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226 and following VicEmergency on Facebook and Twitter.

For information about the effects of smoke on your health go to https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/your-environment/air/smoke or for further information on air quality visit EPA’s website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/airwatch