Wonthaggi fire fighter, Bryan Senior, chats with Niki and Zach Van Der Meer at a fire-ready meeting at Cape Paterson last Sunday. M470116

Wonthaggi fire fighter, Bryan Senior, chats with Niki and Zach Van Der Meer at a fire-ready meeting at Cape Paterson last Sunday. M470116

THERE’S nothing like a bad fire situation to attract a crowd.
We saw it in the years following the serious bushfire of February 2004, with the CFA having no trouble getting people along to a ‘fire ready’ meeting in the town.
However, in recent years, complacency has set in again, and there hasn’t been much more than a handful of people come along and support the message given out by CFA volunteers from Wonthaggi, Cape Paterson and surrounds.
It wasn’t like that last Sunday, after the events of the previous week when an allegedly deliberately lit fire, burnt out a beach-front house and threatened several others, while forcing an evacuation of the caravan park and other homes.
Upwards of as many as 200 people turned out for the morning meeting outside the Cape Tavern and it was clear there was a new level of anxiety in the local community.
The messages, however, remained the same from CFA Community Liaison Officer, Phil Cuthbert, “have a plan” and an emergency kit and be ready to leave.
“If you do have to evacuate, you could have to be away from home for 12 to 24 hours or longer so be prepared to take the things you’ll need and the things you want to keep safe.”
He had a long list of suggestions from a basic toiletries pack, to cash money, passport, drivers’ licence, medication, documents and valuables.
Would you remember to turn off the gas bottle, for example, what else should you take?
The best thing to do is consult the CFA flyer for Cape Paterson, on the Cape Paterson Community Exchange site www.capepaterson.asn.au or on the CFA site. There you’ll find a checklist and other helpful suggestions.
But the message from Mr Cuthbert was simple, don’t leave it until the last minute – make a plan now, prepare an emergency evacuation kit now and be ready to leave early when the time arises.
There has been a number of fires in the Cape Paterson area in the 1960s and 1980s. One of the largest was a deliberately lit fire, that started on the foreshore in February 2004 under a westerly wind. Twenty five fire trucks were required to bring it under control but if not for a fortunate wind change, there could have been a major impact on homes and property.
The area has a ‘very high’ bushfire and grassfire risk and in recent weeks, the town has been under threat from two serious fires; the one emanating from Tank Hill in Wonthaggi and the house fire locally.
Two hundred more people now have the message about bushfire safety.

Meeting dates

• Grantville Community Meeting (Grantville Hall), Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 7pm (duration 1.5 hours).
• Inverloch Community Meeting (Inverloch Community Hub), Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 9am (duration 1.5 hours).
• Venus Bay (VB Surf Lifesaving Club), Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 6pm (duration 1.5 hours).
• Foster (showgrounds): CFA Education Trailer at Foster Show, all day, Saturday, February 27, 2016 from 10am.