Fire danger close to Shepparton

BUSHLAND NEAR SHEPPARTON…. A tinder dry bushland presents potential for fires to start. Photo: Katelyn Morse

With all the fires in the state creating havoc to communities and livelihoods, some concern has been expressed as how are the residents of Shepparton placed in the event of a large fire occurring along the bushland that follows the Goulburn River.

While the bush is largely located along the river banks, residential communities have expanded over the years to abut these zones.

According to a spokesman at the Shepparton CFA, strategy plans for the eventuality of a fire in this zone have been thoroughly developed in conjunction with Parks Victoria.

Over the past few years, fuel loads have been progressively reduced with burnoffs and clearing by Parks Victoria along with the construction of firebreaks so that in the eventuality of a fire starting, access is not being denied for fire crews to attend.

What is seen to be of greater concern is the number of people now living rough in the bush, perhaps numbering 30 to 40, camping out in tents and rough shelters, largely hidden from public view.

Parks Victoria know where most are located however their concern is being able to evacuate them safely should a fire develop.

Nevertheless, even residents living in the built up areas are advised to have personal fire plan in place. This means preparing properties to minimise their exposure, clearing gutters and dried material buildup near their house, preparing a plan to secure valuables and photos in a place that can be easily taken if the need to evacuate arises.

The fire and forestry departments have all expressed concern over the changes in climate causing longer periods of warm dry weather that makes the forest that much more combustible.

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is currently proposing additional strategies to look at the dangers Australia faces with bushfires. To that end, he is proposing a royal commission to look at the bushfires while also signalling some review of their current climate policies. He also indicated that the Australian Defence Force may play a greater role sooner in any future disasters.

Local member for Nichols, Damian Drum was invited to comment however he is currently in Gippsland looking at the damage the fires have caused so far.