Tens of thousands of people are expected to fill campgrounds across north east Victoria this Australia Day weekend, and Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic), the CFA and the Conservation Regulator (CR) are urging people to never leave their campfires unattended or light a fire on a day of Total Fire Ban.  

With hot and dry conditions forecast for this weekend, an unattended campfire can become a bushfire in a matter of minutes. Embers can spark and start a fire that spreads quickly in the bush, putting the community, firefighters and the environment at risk.  

After detecting more than 100 unattended or abandoned campfires in north east Victoria this summer, authorised officers will be on high alert as they patrol state forest campgrounds.   

Campers are also reminded to check weather conditions and know Victoria’s campfire safety rules:   

  • In state forests, use a purpose-built fireplace if provided, otherwise use a trench greater than 30 cm deep. The campfire must not exceed one square metre, while three metres in the air and on the ground around your fire must be clear of flammable material.
  • Branches and logs on your campfire must not exceed one metre in length
  • Never leave a campfire unattended – stay within 50m and in sight
  • Campfires must be extinguished with water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave.   

On the spot fines of $496 apply to those breaching campfire rules or a maximum penalty of up to $16,522 if the matter is prosecuted in court. The maximum penalty for lighting a fire in the open air on a day of Total Fire Ban is $39,652 or two years imprisonment, or both.   

For more information and campfire safety rules, go to www.ffm.vic.gov.au  

If you’re heading out, remember to check for up-to-date COVIDSafe information at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au  

Quotes attributable to FFMVic Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Aaron Kennedy

“The region is facing an increased risk of bushfires this weekend, with temperatures expected to exceed 40 degrees, we need the community to remain vigilant and work with us to prevent bushfires from starting.”

“Unattended and abandoned campfires can have devastating consequences to communities and the environment. The risk is real and can be prevented if all campers follow the campfire rules.”

Quotes attributable to CFA Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Paul King

“I urge visitors and residents in north east Victoria to take extreme care. I know Victorians are keen to get out there to explore and enjoy our amazing state, but it’s also one of the most fire prone regions in the world.”

Quotes attributable to CR Manager Regulatory Ops, Greg Chant

“It just takes one ember to cause a destructive bushfire, which is why there are significant fines for those who leave campfires unattended.”  

The Conservation Regulator overseas the regulation of wildlife, forests and public land in the state of Victoria.  Follow us on Twitter: @ConservationReg  

Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning