David Nugent, Director Fire and Emergency, Parks Victoria, and Forest Fire Management Victoria officers urge visitors keep safe and follow campfire guidelines after responding to 45 unattended campfires on public land this winter.
Winter is a great time to rug up and head outdoors to sit around a campfire, swap stories and toast marshmallows over the roaring flames. However, visitors should ensure it isn’t only the marshmallows that get toasted.
“Parks Victoria is focused on protecting and conserving natural and cultural assets and ensuring visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience. Too many people are leaving campfires unattended or not extinguishing them properly placing people and parks at risk. Even in winter, campfires can escape into surrounding bush and damage campgrounds and assets. Campers should always extinguish a campfire with plenty of water, not soil, as fire can keep burning under dirt and reignite if coals are still smouldering under the surface. A good rule to follow is, if it’s safe to touch, it’s safe to leave,” Nugent said.
Around 10 per cent of bushfires are caused by campfires that escape and spread into surrounding bush, and despite the cooler and wetter conditions, unattended campfires can still damage vegetation and campgrounds in Victoria’s parks and forests. Responding to unattended campfires also costs Forest Fire Management Victoria crews time and resources.
Visitors to Victoria’s parks and forests should remain vigilant and follow campfire regulations, including never walking away from a lit campfire and always extinguishing campfires with water, not soil.
To stay safe and not let your campfire become a bushfire, follow these simple rules:
- Check the park’s regulations before lighting a fire. In a national park, you must only use purpose-built fireplaces provided by the park. Many parks do not allow campfires of any kind.
- In parks or forests where campfires are permitted, use a purpose-built fireplace, otherwise light your campfire in a trench at least 30cm deep. Ensure the trench is no larger than one square metre in size and the area around the trench is cleared of flammable material up to three metres in all directions, including above the campfire.
- Branches and logs on your campfire must be less than one metre long – keep your fire just big enough for warmth and cooking.
- Never leave a campfire alight or unattended. You must maintain a 50-metre line of sight of the campfire at all times.
- An adult must be present at all times when the campfire is alight.
- Ensure your campfire is completely extinguished using water not soil.
Head to https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/permits-and-regulations/fire-restrictions-and-regulations for tips on campfire safety, or watch these campfire safety videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vom-vJxZrZ8