Urban Melb needs fire education: premier

Premier Denis Napthine says more bushfire education and refuges are needed for communities on Melbourne’s fringe after homes were lost in Victoria’s fire emergency.


Seven houses have been confirmed completely destroyed with the main impact on property happening in Melbourne fringe suburbs Gisborne, Mickleham and Warrandyte.

The Mickleham Road blaze in the city’s north remained the most dangerous fire in the state throughout Monday.

Dr Napthine said the government needs to look at more refuges on Melbourne’s fringe.

“We certainly need to look at the opportunity for safer places and refuges in outer urban areas,” he told ABC Radio.

Victoria has four registered community fire refuges, three of which were opened as part of a pilot program following the royal commission into the Black Saturday blazes.

After visiting fires at Gisborne, Warrandyte and Mickleham on Monday, Dr Napthine said the situation in Mickleham remained very active and dangerous.

He also has railed against people who deliberately lit fires on Victoria’s worst bushfire risk day since Black Saturday, saying he couldn’t stomach the thought of it.

At least 14 grass and scrub fires lit during the height of the emergency on Sunday are being probed by arson squad detectives.

So far they have found nine were deliberately lit.

“To think of any lighting of fires on days like yesterday is just absolutely unbelievable in the extreme,” Dr Napthine said.

“I can’t imagine who would do such a thing.

“Putting lives at risk in those circumstances, and putting the lives of our firefighters at risk is something I just cannot stomach.”

Dr Napthine said it was premature to make any conclusions about investigations into the source of blazes.

The community has learnt a lot of lessons since fires destroyed 1886 homes and killed 173 Victorians five years ago, Dr Napthine said, but he stressed continuing education was needed.

“Radiant heat can and does kill,” he said.

“People in some of those outer urban areas need to better understand how you need to dress appropriately with safe clothing on.

“If you’re going to be involved anywhere near the flame, dress appropriately.”