• Loddon Herald

Easter fire safe call

ictorians are being urged to follow campfire rules in state forests this Easter long weekend, with authorities handing out fines, not chocolate eggs, to those caught doing the wrong thing.

Visitor numbers to our region’s parks and forests are expected to jump as the school holidays and back-to-back Easter and Anzac Day long weekends coincide.

Loddon Mallee Regional Manager Forest Fire Operations Paul Bates said while it is fantastic to see people out and about, enjoying our region’s state forests and parks all the way from the Goldfields to the Mallee, campfire safety rules are the same across Victoria.

“Campfires must be made in purpose-built fireplaces, or trenches at least 30cm deep, with nothing flammable within three metres of your fireplace. Branches and logs on a campfire must be less than one metre long,” Mr Bates said.

“All campers are responsible for keeping their campfires safe, including being watched at all times and are reminded to never leave their campfire unattended. It must be completely extinguished with water, not soil, before leaving, even if only for a short while.

“Unattended campfires can easily escape and have the potential to turn into bushfires that could have devastating impacts on life, property and the environment.”

Loddon Mallee Acting Regulatory Program Manager Glenn Smith said Conservation Regulator and Forest Fire Management (FFMVic) Authorised Officers will be patrolling across the region to ensure everyone knows and follows campfire rules.

“The Easter long weekend is one of the most popular times to camp on public land in Victoria and it’s been encouraging to see the number of unattended campfires across the state drop over the last 4 years from 205 in 2018 to 105 last Easter,” Mr Smith said.

During this year’s fire season, there have been 69 unattended campfires in the Loddon Mallee region since July 2021.

“It only takes one stray ember to cause a destructive bushfire, which is why there are significant fines for those who leave campfires unattended,” Mr Smith said.

“Officers can issue on the spot fines of $545 to those who breach campfire rules, and a maximum penalty of up to $18,174 may apply if the matter is prosecuted in court, under the Forests Act 1958.”

Unattended campfires should be reported to 136 186 with calls to 000 to report a bushfire.

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