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Irresponsible campers putting lives at risk

Friday 11 January, 2013

More than 50 bushfires started from unattended campfires over the holiday period prompting authorities to issue a warning to campers and day trippers.

Department of Sustainability and Environment Agency Commander, David Nugent, said with a Total Fire Ban declared across the state today, campfires are not allowed and anyone caught lighting one is putting themselves and the community at risk.

“The weather today is hot and windy and combined with dry grass and bushland, an unattended campfire can very quickly turn into a bushfire,” he said.

“Even last Friday when there was a Total Fire Ban, Department of Sustainability and Environment officers patrolling state forest areas in Gippsland had to extinguish more than 20 campfires.

“This was on a day when temperatures were over 40 degrees everywhere and the risk of bushfire to individuals and communities was well publicised.”

Throughout the Christmas and New Year period almost 50 campfires in total had to be put out by fire services.

“This type of behaviour is unacceptable and dangerous to the community,” Mr Nugent said.

“People need to make sure they put campfires out properly. Campfires can smoulder for weeks if they’re not extinguished properly and can then flare up on a hot, windy day.”

About 10 per cent of fires in Victoria’s parks and forests are started by campfire escapes - that’s 10 per cent of bushfires that could have been prevented

On a day of Total Fire Ban, no fires are permitted in the open air and even when there is not a Total Fire Ban, campfires should never be left unattended and should be fully extinguished with water before leaving, until they are cool to touch.

There are significant penalties for anyone leaving a campfire unattended or going on days of Total Fire Ban.

For information on burns and fires in Victoria and general fire safety advice, please contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on freecall 1800 240 667. Callers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment may call textphone/telewriter (TTY) on 1800 122 969.

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