Three regional towns will take part in a bushfire evacuation exercise next week in collaboration with Victoria Police and emergency agencies.
The residents of Powelltown, Three Bridges and Gilderoy will have the option to leave or stay on 26 October, in a test to prepare for what is predicted to be a busy fire season this summer.
Victoria Police, the Country Fire Authority, Yarra Ranges Council and Forest Fire Management Victoria will be involved in the practice exercise. A community meeting will follow in Powelltown to discuss the learnings from the day.
The exercise will run between 2pm and 6pm on the Saturday, however, authorities have not released specific details in a bid to ensure the practice is as genuine as possible.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Grainger said that Powelltown was chosen for the drill because they have a history of bushfires. Powelltown also only has one road in and out.
Police and emergency services have been working with the residents of the town in the lead up to the drill. They are encouraged to participate regardless of whether they plan to stay and defend, leave early or are unprepared.
“This is a chance for Victoria Police, emergency services and local residents to assess how the area and the people respond to a bushfire threat,” Grainger said.
“It’s important to remember that in a real emergency with a fast-moving bushfire, police are not always in a position to provide an evacuation alert so residents should ensure they’re well prepared.”
The planned drills follow the predictions that parts of Victoria are set to face their worse bushfire threat since the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. East and West Gippsland and the Great Dividing Range are forecast to face their biggest threats after three years of below-average rainfall, as reported by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Research Centre.
In addition to the practice drill, residents are also encouraged to download the VicEmergency app.
Photo: ‘Firefighter’ by Nick Perla available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.