Fire modelling shows in dry, windy conditions, 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 people and the environment at risk.
After detecting 252 unattended and abandoned campfires across the state this summer, authorised officers will be on high alert as they patrol state forest campgrounds.
Campers are also reminded to check weather conditions are safe and familiarise themselves with 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.
Quotes attributable to Chief Conservation Regulator, Kate Gavens
“Unattended and abandoned campfires can have devastating consequences to local communities and the environment. The risk is real and can be prevented if all campers take responsibility to know and abide by campfire rules.”
Quotes attributable to FFMVic Chief Fire Officer, Chris Hardman
“It just takes one ember to cause a destructive bushfire, which is why there are significant fines for those who leave campfires unattended."
Quotes attributable to CFA Chief Officer, Jason Heffernan
“I urge visitors and residents in regional 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."
Reviewed 23 June 2021