Burn-off warning following Dewhurst fire

A large scrub fire in Dewhurst was likely the result of a burn-off, which hadn’t been properly extinguished a day prior. Pictures: LTD KLAUS BRODECK

By Mitchell Clarke

A large scrub fire in Dewhurst was likely the result of a burn-off, which hadn’t been properly extinguished a day prior.

CFA volunteers first received reports just after 1.15pm on Thursday 19 November that a scrub fire had quickly spread around Bourkes Creek Road, north of Pakenham Upper.

It appeared the fire began behind a shed and was spreading towards Chambers Reserve, according to a CFA spokesman.

Emerald Fire Bridge, as the lead agency, were joined by crews from Clematis, Upper Beaconsfield, Menzies Creek, Cockatoo, Pakenham Upper and Gembrook.

Captain Yandle said uncontrolled burn-offs were often a major contributor to large bushfires.

About 40 firefighters and 12 vehicles responded on scene to control the blaze, which was approximately half a hectare in size.

It was contained in just under 45 minutes, but volunteers remained on site to ensure the flames had been fully extinguished.

The shed was spared from any damage and no houses were affected, but a couple of fence posts were burnt.

Emerald CFA captain Paul Yandle said the incident was a timely reminder to ensure fire safety measures were followed in the lead up to the fire season.

Captain Yandle said uncontrolled burn-offs were often a major contributor to large bush and scrub fires.

“People recklessly light bushfires through burn-offs, so the message is to never leave fires unattended and to put them out straight away. Don’t leave them smouldering,” he said.

“We are pretty quickly approaching fire season, and as we can see from this job, fire will burn in the landscape.”

CFA deputy chief officer Trevor Owen added that residents in the south east region were urged to take “extreme care” when burning off.

The warning follows a spate of call outs to out-of-control private burn-offs.

Lighting a fire without a permit during the Fire Danger Period could result in penalties of up to $19,342 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.

Mr Owen said people conducting burn-offs were required to comply with local council by-laws.

“We encourage residents to take advantage of the window of opportunity to clean up their properties before fire restrictions come into place, but the effects of an out-of-control fire can be devastating,” he said.

“It is vital people do the right thing by checking conditions, complying with local by-laws and registering their burn-offs. A two-minute call is all it takes to register the burn.

“It is absolutely essential that you have enough water on hand to put out a fire. There isn’t enough time to run back to your house if your fire gets out of control. You should construct a fire break, free of flammable, materials around any burn-off.”

Lighting a fire without a permit during the Fire Danger Period could result in penalties of up to $19,342 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.

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