Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is calling on private landowners to check the weather conditions before burning off after low prevailing winds and private burn offs in the Latrobe Valley contributed to very poor air quality on Sunday and Monday (19 and 20 May).
Video from EPA monitoring cameras in the Latrobe Valley clearly show at least one large burn off on Sunday creating a large smoke plume.
“Smoke from that and other burn offs remained in the atmosphere as there was little to no wind to disperse it. Eventually it fell back over the Valley contributing to the very poor air quality. Winds have picked up and air quality is now improving,” said EPA Chief Environmental Scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood.
A smoke plume rises over the Valley on Sunday morning
“EPA does not regulate private burn offs but is asking people to incorporate weather forecasting before they light their fires. We anticipate low winds again over the Valley in the next few days and urge them to hold off until winds pick up enough to disperse the smoke they create.”
Dr Hinwood said EPA published air quality data live on its EPA AirWatch website.
“But if you can smell smoke, that’s the time to take any health measures, especially if your household includes people with pre-existing conditions (including asthma), children, pregnant women or older people, Dr Hinwood said.
“People with existing heart or lung conditions (including asthma) should follow the treatment plan advised by their doctor.”
Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.
Planned burning involves lighting fires under carefully managed conditions to reduce the risk of bushfire. Forest Fire Management Victoria and Parks Victoria undertake planned burning across Victoria, particularly on public land such as forests.
Forest Fire Management Victoria undertakes predictive modelling of any potential smoke impacts and can request that EPA deploy its incident response air monitoring equipment. EPA can also provide information on air quality forecasting when requested.
The 10-day planned burn schedule is available here: https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/bushfire-fuel-and-risk-management/planned-burns
Commercial operations and businesses may also carry out this activity and need to apply for a permit; permits are provided by CFA and local councils.