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Planned burns sparking false alarm calls

The start of the planned burning season has resulted in an increase in false alarm calls to emergency services.

RIAHN SMITH March 13, 2014 6:29am

Country Fire Authority District 22 operations officer Tony Owen said there had been an influx in reports of grassfires in the region since the first permits were issued on Friday — the majority of which were planned burns.

Mr Owen said CFA granted farmers permits to burn off grass and stubble to rejuvenate their land and reduce bushfire risk.

‘‘We had one big burn out in the Tungamah area and three or four calls for it,’’ Mr Owen said.

‘‘We had trucks going everywhere.’’

Mr Owen said planned burns were required to be registered with CFA and could occur only between 7pm and sunrise the following morning.

He said the burns were also dependent on conducive weather conditions, including temperature and wind speed. He advised residents to investigate and monitor a fire before raising the alarm.

‘‘A lot of people are ringing because they’ve seen a glow in the sky,’’ Mr Owen said.

‘‘If they’re seeing a fire and are close enough to it, if they can see signs of a farmer controlling it, it’s likely to be a permit burn. We’re encouraging people to get a good look at it first, to see if it’s out of control or a burn off.’’

Mr Owen urged landowners to advise neighbours of planned burns and said there would be a zero-tolerance approach to permit breaches.

‘‘If they obtain a permit and are going to burn, they must ensure they read the permit conditions fully and comply with them at all times. If they don’t, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.’’

Yesterday, Department of Environment and Primary Industries also issued an advice notice of planned burns in state forests, national parks and public reserves during the coming week.

‘‘We are planning to carry out 53400ha this financial year across the Hume Region,’’ a spokesman said.

‘‘We will commence with some large scale higher elevation burns in the Upper Murray, Goulburn and Ovens districts and work our way towards carrying out burns near larger communities and key infrastructure.’’

For more information on where planned burns are scheduled, visit www.depi.vic.gov.au/burnsmap or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800240667.

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