Alarm raised over blocked fire escape routes


FLINDERS and Red Hill residents concerned by predictions of an intense fire danger season are meeting Mornington Peninsula Shire officers to discuss ways of making their communities safer.

A blocked escape route is causing a double problem for residents of William and Bourke roads in Red Hill – residents cannot get out and fire vehicles cannot get into the area other than from Arthurs Seat Rd.

It is believed the CFA is reluctant to enter parts of the area because of access problems.

Twenty local residents met last month to discuss the blocked track that would enable them to reach the safety of the Mornington Flinders Rd at Elizabeth St  near Red Hill Consolidated School.

Red Hill ward councillor Tim Wood is arranging for both communities to meet shire officers over their issues.

In a letter to Cr Wood, Red Hill Community Association chairperson David Maddocks stated residents had “expressed grave concerns about the lack of access/evacuation routes … if Williams Rd was blocked by fire coming from the direction of Arthurs Seat Rd”.

It continues: “…[A] section of about 100 metres at the Elizabeth St end has become overgrown with woody weeds and … occupied as a truck parking and storage space.  While some years ago this stretch was passable by pedestrians, it is now impassable, even on foot … As concerns for an exceptionally high risk fire season are mounting, RHCA considers that urgent action be taken to make Bourke Rd accessible – at least to the standard of a fire track that can be used by pedestrians and vehicles.”

Other Red Hill streets are blocked – as no doubt are others across the shire – or are restricted pedestrian thoroughfares, adding to the burden of staff racing to prepare the shire for the coming fire danger months.

While fire authorities’ emphasise residents’ responsibility to leave early on fire Code Red days, with their “Leave and Live” message, the CFA has acknowledged that more than 43 per cent of bushfires are deliberately lit.

These random blazes make it virtually impossible for people to execute their fire plans in an orderly way. In such circumstances, evacuation routes could well save lives.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 15 December 2015


Comments are closed.