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Autumn weather still poses a serious fire risk

1 March 2016

Victorian emergency management agencies remain prepared as the first day of autumn sees the beginning of a period of hot, dry and windy conditions.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said while summer has ended Victorians should remain aware as the fire threat in some areas of the state remains high.

“The end of summer does not spell the end of the fire risk. It is still dry across the state and we can still have fires. We are in for a couple of weeks of warm weather and can expect the risk to remain until we experience some good rainfall.”

Mr Lapsley said the areas most at risk of these conditions were the Central, Northern and Western parts of Victoria.

“These areas are dry, and with no rain in sight, as winds move through during hot weather the fire risk will be very high,” he said.

“Tomorrow temperatures in the north of the state will push into the 40s and into the mid-30s in central and western Victoria. Fire danger is high to very high across the state. We have crews at the ready and are asking Victorians to be prepared.

“Supporting firefighters on the ground, we have 41 aircraft, including two orange Erikson Aircranes and two Sikorsky helicopters, positioned across the state and, if required, we can call on resources from a call when needed register that remains on standby.”

Rodney Dickson, Senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology said it would be a hot start to autumn with temperatures into the mid-high 30s across Victoria today.

“There’s no significant rainfall in sight, conditions are very dry. In fact most of central and eastern Victoria and the Mallee had had less than half their usual rain for February. The outlook is for warmer and drier than average conditions to continue through March.”

As firefighters across the state gear up for these conditions, this week we will say goodbye to three Large Air Tankers (LATs). The LATs leave Victoria and will return to Canada and America. The LATs are some of the biggest firefighting aircraft in the world and are part of the national fleet.

“March is traditionally the time when international aircraft begin to leave the country. The LATs have been a good addition to the fleet this year. Victoria will continue to have one of the largest and most sophisticated aerial firefighting fleets in the world which is well supported by our firefighters on the ground,” Mr Lapsley said.