A fire sparked by an illegal burn-off during the Fire Danger Period created havoc for traffic south of Koonoomoo and frustrated emergency services last Wednesday.
The small blaze only burned about 2ha north of the Yarroweyah roadhouse intersection at about 10am, but caused logistical troubles for emergency services.
It took eight vehicles to bring the blaze under control.
Cobram Fire Brigade captain Adrian Hilder said the fire was sparked by a burn-off which had no permit.
‘‘It sparked a grassfire, which got out of control near the roadside and caused a bit of chaos for traffic,’’ he said.
The Goulburn Valley Hwy was shut to traffic north of the Murray Valley Hwy to Koonoomoo and reopened to one lane later due to visibility issues with smoke across the road.
‘‘The highway was then closed again because the fire had gotten into large trees on the roadside and there was concern about them,’’ Mr Hilder said.
He warned that the Fire Danger Period was still current in Moira Shire, and all burn-offs needed to have permits.
‘‘Even though the nights are cooler, people still need to be vigilant because conditions can still be quite bad for fires.’’
Mr Hilder said Victoria Police and the Country Fire Authority had zero tolerance for burn-offs or fires lit without permits and people would face severe penalties.
‘‘We also ask that during an emergency that people drive slowly and cautiously past it, especially when there are emergency services volunteers working on the roadside.’’
Firefighters were also called to another fire sparked by an illegal burn-off in Katunga on the same day.
CFA Hume regional controller Rob Van Dorsser echoed Mr Hilder’s concerns.
‘‘Over the past week CFA brigades across the Hume region have been called to multiple incidents involving illegally lit fires,’’ Mr Van Dorsser said.
‘‘There may be smoke visible in the air due to DELWP and CFA planned burns or approved permit burn-offs, but this does not mean is it safe to burn-off without a permit.
‘‘We ask residents to be patient and consider that there are heavy penalties that apply for breaking the law — and being unaware is no excuse.
‘‘Calls to fires started by burn-offs without a permit take firefighters away from workplaces, families and potentially genuine emergencies.’’
During the Fire Danger Period fires cannot be lit in the open air without a written permit from CFA or a municipal fire prevention officer.
‘‘Even if you have a permit to use over the Fire Danger Period, make sure you read the conditions carefully,’’ Mr Van Dorsser said.
‘‘Failing to follow just one of those conditions may leave you open to prosecution.’’
●For more information, see the ‘Can I or Can’t I’ page at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/can or phone the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800226226.
All burn-offs should be registered with the VicFire burn-off notification line on 1800668511.