Summer Fire Season 2016/2017 Report


With many areas having above average fire risk this summer it’s important to remember that weep holes in brick homes allow embers to enter and start a catastrophic fire. Embers can travel kilometers in front of the fire, igniting anything in their path.

This summer the forecast is for above normal fire risk in parts of Queensland, throughout most of rural New South Wales and Victoria. Homeowners are being urged to put their fire prevention plans into action.

With Australia’s national mean temperature above the long term average for the year so far, and wetter than normal conditions through much of the country, there has been strong growth of fire fuel in grassland and bush areas, which when dried out will pose a fire threat throughout summer.

Protecting weep holes is critical as sparks and embers must be prevented from entering the wall cavity and causing unseen ignition within the building. Fires can spread quickly when embers are distributed by the wind. Not only can they ignite debris around a dwelling, they can also be sucked in by updrafts through weep holes. 

According to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC’s  Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook (August 2016) grasslands will pose a particular threat this season as there has been heavy growth over the winter.

In Queensland while some inland regions have seen record rainfall, drought conditions remain in much of the state. The prediction is that while it is unlikely there will be an above-normal fire season, an active fire season is still likely, particularly in areas with underlying soil dryness.

In New South Wales, there has been a delayed start to the bushfire season because winter and spring rainfall was above average but with a more typical summer with high temperatures, the fire season is predicted to follow a normal season pattern.

The ACT also received above average rainfall this year, so there too there are increased fuel loads in grasslands and also high-country forests but due to rainfall the fire risk is expected to remain low until mid-summer, unless there is an earlier than expected change to drier conditions.

In Victoria, in the East Gippsland there is a mostly below-normal fire risk until mid-summer. However, in west and south Gippsland, and parts of the Central Highlands while there has been above average rainfall, there is a high probability of above average temperatures which will dry out the forested areas which could leave to rapidly escalating fire behaviour later in summer.

In Tasmania, the prediction is for normal bushfire potential, with the risk is expected to remain low until the New Year when conditions dry out.

In Western Australia, the bulk of the state has a normal fire risk, with above normal risk for the Western Gascoyne and Pilbara as the result of higher-than-average grass fuel loads in response to above-average soil moisture. There is also a higher than normal risk predicted for the Eucla area and the South West.

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