By Derek Schlennstedt
A fire in the Yarra Glen area on 23 November has prompted emergency services to remind residents to clean-up their properties, and remove any rubbish.
Yarra Glen CFA Captain Bill Boyd said crews had to attend a grass fire which had the potential to become much more serious.
Though, Captain Boyd said that was the least of their concerns, when, upon arrival, they found various items of rubbish strewn over the property and noticed the smell of burning plastic in the air.
He said something needed to be done about the location which he described as becoming a “tip”.
“We attended a fire last week … what was concerning is what we found under the grass,” Captain Boyd said.
“All the rubbish we didn’t know about – plastics and flammable materials, which create toxic fumes and can affect our firefighters’ health and the health of the community,” he said.
“When you get called to a paddock that is supposedly just a grass fire, and you turn up and it appears to be a tip, it makes it very difficult.”
Eight CFA appliances, including trucks from Yarra Glen, Dixons Creek, Healesville and Coldstream, were called to the incident.
It is alleged that the occupier of the property in Yarra Glen was burning off, when a gust of wind blew embers from the fire onto the grass and consequently caused a fire that resulted in two acres of the farm property being burnt.
Though the fire was easy to get under control, Captain Boyd said it could have quite easily escalated, and noted the proximity of the property which had large furrows of rubbish to the Yarra River-only a few metres away.
“We’re more concerned about what we don’t know what’s in there when we turn up- we had potentially 20 odd firefighters and who knows what risk they’ve faced here … a lung full of smoke from plastics and toxins?” he said.
“We also had reports come in of people from the school, who could smell the plastic burning- that’s a kilometre away.”
Captain Boyd appealed to property owners to follow the proper procedures when burning off, including contingency plans, and access to a water source as well as registering their burn-offs on the CFA website.
“We’re appealing to people to clean their properties up, but in this case it appears it’s falling on deaf ears,” he said.
To register your burn-off visit http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/contact/register-your-burn-off/