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By Derek Schlennstedt

CFA and Yarra Ranges Council are reminding residents to clean-up their properties in the lead-up to the implementation of fire restrictions which will commence from 1am on Monday 18 December.
Though they urge residents not to ‘rush out’ to try and beat the restriction date, and if burning off to heed the CFA website and advice.
CFA Operations Manager Dave Renkin said during the lead up to the restriction date, CFA stations around the Yarra Ranges receive a high number of call-outs to fires that get out of control from overzealous property owners trying to reduce their fuel loads before the restrictions.
“We do get a bit of a spike, before the fire restriction period being introduced,” he said.
“I suppose historically over a number of years, we’ve seen a number of burn-offs get away from residents – the weather conditions will change and unfortunately we do get the scenario where we get a number of fires that do escape and require the services of local brigades.”
Although many residents use burning-off as a way of reducing fuel loads on their property, Mr Renkin also suggested other alternatives such as green waste bins and Yarra Ranges Council Bundled Branches initiative – an initiative where the council collects up to three cubic metres of bundled branches from properties within the municipality.
Mr Renkin also acknowledged that while the Yarra Ranges had seen above average rainfall, it won’t take long for undergrowth and fuel loads to dry out.
“Even though we’ve had some good rainfall over the last weekend it’s not going to take very long for conditions to dry out,” he said.
Mr Renkin said fires in the region, including recent ones in Bunyip State Park and near Matlock showed there was already increased activity and that this would worsen into summer.
“We already had one in Bunyip, and near Matlock – all deemed to be lightning strikes and were burning pretty freely in very dry forest … a lot of work was done to bring those under control,” he said.
“There is an underlying dryness within our forested areas at the moment and that will continue right through into summer – people need to remain very vigilant and report any smoke they see to triple-zero.
“Conditions will get a lot worse than what they have been.”
Restrictions mean no fires can be lit in the open without a permit.
The restrictions apply to residents in the Yarra Ranges, Knox, Maroondah and parts of Manningham.
Mr Renkin said residents who choose to burn-off before restrictions are implemented should monitor weather conditions, ensure they have a hose or water source nearby and register their burn-off with the CFA.
To find out more information regarding restrictions and who it affects, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/restrictions-during-the-fire-danger-period/
Residents can also register their burn-off by calling 1800 668 511 or visit and fill out the form at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/contact/register-your-burn-off/

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