Forest Fire Management Victoria crews reported over 60 unattended campfires in parks and forests last weekend – which included a statewide Total Fire Ban on Saturday 6 January.

Whilst these figures show a general improvement on previous years, there was still a high number reported for the Hume region and to a lesser extent Gippsland. A number of these incidents are now the subject of further investigation.

Under the Forest Act 1958, on the spot fines of up to $476 can be issued for people breaching campfire safety rules and a person can face a maximum penalty of up to $15,872 if the matter is prosecuted in Court.

About 10 per cent of all bushfires are caused by campfire negligence. Unattended campfires can lead to significant environmental damage, and place local communities and firefighters at great risk. This includes partially extinguished fires with embers that are still hot.

To ensure that your campfire doesn’t become a bushfire, observe the following rules:

  1. Use a purpose-built fireplace where provided, otherwise light your campfire in a trench at least 30cm deep.  Ensure the trench is no larger than one 1 square metre in size and the area around the trench is cleared of flammable material up to three metres in all directions, including above the campfire.
  2. Branches and logs on your campfire must be less than one metre long – keep your fire just big enough for warmth and cooking.
  3. Never leave a campfire alight or unattended.  You must maintain a 50-metre line of sight of the campfire at all times.
  4. An adult must be present at all times when the campfire is alight.
  5. Ensure your campfire is completely extinguished using water not soil.

Remember to check the weather forecast, check with other campers if unsure whether a total fire ban applies and, if in doubt, don’t start a campfire.

If you see a campfire that doesn’t look right or is unattended call 136 186, or call 000 if you see a bushfire.

For more information on campfire safety visit https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/permits-and-regulations/fire-restrictions-and-regulations

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