illegal-beach-bonfire-causes-serious-alarmOn one of his early morning visits to the surf beach at Inverloch, local resident Max Wells found that an illegal beach bonfire had reignited and was proving to be a danger to dry coastal bush nearby. M404314

FORGET the dogs for a moment, if you can, there’s a far more important threat to safety on the beach at Inverloch.
And with the fire danger period already upon us, it’s high time the shire put more effort into the risk of fire on the Inverloch foreshore than those damned dogs.
Last weekend locals highlighted one of the biggest risks seen in recent times to igniting a fearful blaze in the foreshore bush along Inverloch’s famed surf beach.
Making an early morning visit to the beach, to check out the surf ahead of a competition day for the Bass Coast Board Riders last Sunday, surfing guru and Inverloch resident Max Wells was alarmed to discover an illegal beach fire still smouldering near the Ozone Street access point.
“With a south westerly wind blowing I was concerned the remains of the fire might flare up and send embers into the coastal bush,” said Max.
“I went straight home on the pushy to get a shovel and by the time I got back, the fire was flaming up again.”
Mr Wells shovelled sand over the neglected bonfire to quell the flames but later, the Inverloch CFA Brigade was called in to deal with the still smouldering embers.
Lieutenant Mick Hughes and Fireman Andrew Wilson were the first responders, using their hoes to uncover a pile of still smoky embers and they later called on one of their colleagues with a water backpack to put the embers out.
The fire officers agreed such incidents were of serious concern especially with parts of the coastal bush dead and dry after being undercut by wave action over the winter.
They said it was a risk they would be raising with their superiors at the local brigade.
“It’s a real worry with all this debris on the beach,” Mr Wells said.
“The risk is that people will build it up into a bonfire and set it alight at night. You might think it’s safe enough out here on the sand but when a south westerly blows up, it can become a real hazard.”
Fire restrictions have already been declared in some parts of the state and with average to above average fire danger expected across Victoria this year, restrictions in Bass Coast and South Gippsland will not be far away.
Previously authorities have thought the biggest threat to a fire starting in the coastal vegetation came from the town side of the foreshore but as Mr Wells and the Inverloch CFA highlighted last weekend, it might come from illegal bonfires on the beach side.
The Bass Coast Shire Council has been asked to respond.

Shire to act on fire risk

THE Bass Coast Shire Council’s Acting General Manager Sustainable Development and Growth, Jodi Kennedy, has responded to the concerns about bush debris being used to light beach bonfires at Inverloch.
Saying that action will be taken where risks are identified:
“Bass Coast Shire Council is the land manager of over 40 kilometres of Crown Land Foreshore Reserve, including the Inverloch Foreshore,” Ms Kennedy said.
“Each year, prior to the fire season, Council and the CFA conducts site inspections of the foreshore reserves in order to develop Fire Prevention Work Plans.
“These plans identify the works that need to be undertaken in order to reduce fire risk. This work includes slashing and removing dead wood to reduce fuel loads, especially in areas close to houses and other infrastructure.
“Other works include clearing fire breaks and firefighting access tracks, maintaining fire plugs and improving community awareness.
“The site inspections are currently underway and the Inverloch site in question will be assessed over the coming weeks.
“Once completed the Fire Prevention Work Plans will be displayed on Council’s website.”