During an abnormally hot, dry and windy day in early October 2015, a campfire located on the northern side of Mt Hickey in the Tallarook State Forest escaped and burned out of control – as extreme conditions formed a Code Red Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) rating of 114.
Strong winds from the north west quickly blew the fire in a southerly direction up the mountain and into the tree tops, until it began to slow upon reaching a planned burn from Autumn 2015.
The northern section of the planned burn was patchy with incomplete fuel reduction coverage so while it slowed the fire’s spread, spot-fires flared throughout.
However, the southerly section of the planned burn had complete fuel reduction coverage which halted the forward spread of the fire completely, significantly reducing its overall size.
About 6:30pm, a change in wind direction – coming from the south west – blew the fire north east into a gully of unburnt forest.
As the evening progressed, milder weather conditions – coupled with the reduced fire spread because of the planned burn - meant CFA and FFMVic crews were able to control the fire within the Tallarook State Forest.
The final fire size was 568 hectares with no lives lost or properties destroyed.
Using the Phoenix Rapidfire program – which predicts fire behaviour based on actual weather inputs –this planned burn is estimated to have protected 7000 hectares of forest, and up to 65 properties from serious impacts.
Routine planned burning performed by highly skilled Forest Fire Management Victoria and CFA crews is a vital fuel reduction activity proven to reduce the severity, size and extent of bushfires.
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