If conditions are suitable and it is safe to do so Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) will start its autumn planned burning program in the Mallee on Sunday to reduce the potential impact of bushfires on communities and the environment.

FFMVic Acting Regional Manager Forest Fire Operations Paul Bates said planned burning is one of the many strategies employed by FFMVic as part of an integrated approach to protecting life and property from the risk of bushfire.

“Residents in Murrayville, Cowangie, Boinka, Underbool and surrounding areas may see or smell smoke from the ignition of a planned burn on the northern boundary of the Big Desert State Forest this weekend,” he said.

“The burn is around 663 hectares and part of an overall fuel reduction strategy to reduce the potential spread and intensity of bushfires along the northern boundary of the forest.

Sunday’s fuel reduction burn is part of a broader strategic program that includes other burns and fuel management works such as clearing, mowing and slashing.

“Our crews follow careful processes before, during and after a burn, to make sure it is kept safe and controlled. Weather conditions are assessed and monitored, control lines and contingency areas are prepared, traffic control is put in place and fire crews monitor the area overnight and for several days afterwards to put out or remove smouldering material.

“For large scaled planned burns like this to be conducted safely and efficiently, our crews will use aircraft including helicopters for aerial ignition and fire behaviour observation.

“We work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to assess weather conditions, such as humidity, temperature and wind speed, and will only carry out burns when the conditions are suitable and it is safe to do so.”

To find out when and where planned burns are happening near you go to plannedburns.ffm.vic.gov.au or call 1800 226 226.