Landowners in Bendigo and surrounds are being urged to to clean up their properties as grass fuel levels reach dangerously high proportions, thanks to early summer rains.
Nanjing Night Net

Country Fire Authority District 2 operations officer Bruce Quarrier said while the rains had helped keep the region’s forest fire danger ratings low, grass fire ratings had been “well above average for most of this year”.

“The rains we had late lastyear have brought increasedgrass growth to levels that haven’tbeen seen for quite a numberof years,” he said.

“[So far] we’ve seen the fires in crops moving a lot quicker than the fires in grass but once thegrass is fully cured which it is now, we’re expectingfireto travel equally as fast in grass areas, andwe’ve got some native grassesabove two metres high this year which we haven’t seen for a number of years.”

Mr Quarrier said the grass was “everywhere”, including roadsides and paddocks, with councils having issued clean-up notices to many of the region’s private landholders.

“In years gone past, particularly small landholders have been hangingon totheir grass for stock, this year paddocks just aren’t beingeaten out asquickly as they have in previous years so if you’ve still got long grass and your stock aren’t coping it’s a good time to consider cleaning up,” he said.

“Having said that, we don’t want machinery in paddocks on days of high fire danger either, so take advantage of the cooler days if we get any.”

Forest Fire Management Victoria district managerPaul Bates said the organisationhadundertaken a larger than normal slashing program this season, due to the above averagegrass growth, with efforts deliberately concentratedin and around towns.

“Working closely with the community, we’re continuing to monitor areas where we’ve already slashed and cut remaining small areas where the need is identified,” he said.

“With the run of hot days and very dry air of late, we are getting low moisture levels in grass and other fuel – a particular concern on those days where the wind picks up.

“I’d like to remind everyone that we all need to work together, particularly on the hotter days, and be aware of the weather. So, take extra care in the activities that may start a fire, that includes activities such as mowing, welding, working with grinders – anything that can ignite a spark.”

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