Victoria is about to start a program of planned burn-offs as milder autumn weather follows a devastating bushfire season that ravaged about 1.6 million hectares statewide.
With all blazes in Victoria contained and average rainfall predicted for autumn, the Country Fire Authority and Forest Fire Management Victoria will carry out burn-offs, it was confirmed on Wednesday.
“Victoria is one of the most bushfire-prone regions in the world,” FFM Victoria chief fire officer Chris Hardman said.
“While planned burning will never be a cure-all, it is a key part of bushfire preparedness.”
Areas including the Dandenong Ranges, Mount Dandenong, Upwey, Olinda, the Macedon Ranges – all near Melbourne – and Bendigo, in central Victoria, will be the initial focus of the program.
Hazard-reduction burns are also scheduled for the state’s south-west at Colac, Cressy and Camperdown, and around townships along the Great Ocean Road.
The amount of prescribed planned burning carried out in Victoria in 2019 became a point of contention during the recent summer’s fire season.
Authorities said dry conditions made hazard-reduction burning extremely difficult in the previous year, but denied the state had not been prepared for the fire season.
A $2.55 million inquiry will be held into the deadly 2019-2020 bushfires, with the first report due in the middle of 2020.
The review will be run by inspectorate general of emergency management Tony Pearce.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the response to the summer’s fires had already been influenced by the royal commission into the fatal 2009 Black Saturday blazes.
A federal royal commission has also been established. It will also examine fuel loads and management of hazard-reduction burns.