27 January 2014
While nothing like as severe as the heatwave of a fortnight ago, this week’s run of hot, dry weather sounds warning bells for a long fire season ahead.
But the recent spate of fast-moving grassfires on the fringes of housing estates at Mernda, Wollert and Craigieburn did not provoke the same mass exodus and gridlocked roads that marked the first fire season in the north last year.
Firefighters also battled blazes on Sunbury’s outskirts over four consecutive days.
Aurora Estate resident Cara Horner said the communities were in a much better position to manage their reactions, especially after they were given strategies by the CFA through Fire Ready meetings.
“Our community did a really good job by not panicking,” Ms Horner said.
“It was a credit to the community; we’re getting a lot better at managing grassfires.”
She said simple advice, such as moving a street or two back if a fire front was coming close to residential fringes, meant people had a practical response to finding themselves faced by fire.
With unfinished road connections and only two main roads in and out of the vast estate subdivisions along the Hume Highway corridor, a repeat of the panic and gridlock is the last thing emergency services need to deal with.
The Bureau of Meteorology says maximum temperatures from February through to April have a greater than 60 per cent chance of being warmer than normal, after the warmest spring period on record in Melbourne and its second- worst heatwave.
» Fire Ready meeting details: cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/home-bushfire-advice-service/