Fire season campfires: time to show some gumption

Here’s an exerpt from a DEECA press release dated last Wednesday March 6th:

‘On a day of Total Fire Ban in the South West fire weather district last week, a campfire escaped at the Rocklands Reservoir in the Grampians and while campers managed to contain the fire, it burned 0.1 hectares before Forest Fire Management crews arrived. Three tankers, 10 firefighters, and one air support
crew were required to completely extinguish the fire.

Mount Alexander near the Leanganook campground, January: this potential disaster –caused by a neglected campfire–was headed off by timely intervention by fire fighters.

‘Since 1 January 2024, authorities have detected more than 170 unattended campfires in parks and forests across the state, and with Victoria recently experiencing some of its most dangerous fire days, any unwatched campfire has a significant risk of escaping and spreading rapidly out of control.’ [FOBIF emphasis]

The release goes on to tell people to be careful. Given the above statistics, you would think the Department would show some decisiveness and go for a ban on campfires any time in the fire season. Polite advice doesn’t seem to be working.

Why doesn’t it? Well, our guess is that DEECA has a notion that campfires are some kind of sacred tradition, which can’t be touched. If so, it’s time they showed a bit of gumption, and leadership. The stakes are too high to indulge something that’s no longer necessary.

We’ve had lots of feedback to our post two weeks ago about fires at Leanganook: all confirm that there are too many fires, too many carelessly situated fires, and above all, too many large fires quite out of proportion to what might be needed to keep someone warm. Further, the ground around the camping area has been stripped of timber, including large logs which are not a fire problem and are important habitat.

News flash: the summer season is usually warm…and potentially dangerous. Even in mild or cooler days, fires are not necessary.

This should not be a matter for controversy: sometimes common sense and a bit of gumption make a good combination…but one which is often surprisingly absent.

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