Forest Fire Management Victoria crews have been responding to dry weather conditions and state emergency management priorities, balancing both planned burning and bushfire response.

An early start to the season saw a massive response effort by FFMVic crews, who have now responded to 1477 fires across the state.

Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Darrin McKenzie said: “We will continue to provide fire suppression support to the on-going peat fires in the South West, following the devastating bushfires in Terang, Cobden and Camperdown areas.

“Twelve taskforces from across Victoria have assisted in efforts to extinguish the peat fires, which continue to burn underground and emit carbon monoxide fumes to nearby communities.”

In light of warmer conditions and limited rainfall, planned burning activity has largely been focused around high priority areas, including the Otway Ranges, Wombat State Forest, Dandenong Ranges and Far East Gippsland.

“To date, 164 planned burns across 11,209 hectares have been successfully conducted.

“Late March and early April on average see our largest percentage of the planned burning program delivered.  

“Nine taskforces have been deployed to areas of the state to assist with planned burning, demonstrating the flexibility of our workforce to focus our efforts where they are needed the most.

“For those regions that have experienced limited rainfall, crews are focusing on other methods to reduce bushfire risk for local communities.

“This includes mechanical treatments such as slashing and mulching, removal of hazardous trees and maintaining and upgrading of our strategic road network to improve ground access and egress for our crews.

“FFMVic is working with local communities to ensure residents and visitors are informed about their upcoming planned burning program and the potential for smoke to be visible for longer periods due to the favourable burning conditions that are forecast.

“We understand that smoke from planned burns may cause concern for some people, but it’s important that our crews take every opportunity while conditions are right to reduce bushfire risk.”

For the latest information about when planned burns are happening near you go to www.ffm.vic.gov.au/plannedburn, download the Vic Emergency app or call the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226.