More blazes forecast

Professor Geoff Cary.
Professor Geoff Cary.

Professor Geoff Cary, from the Australian National University, said a projected rise in average temperatures of more than 2C would result in much more bushfire activity across the country.

‘There’s an 80 per cent consensus indicating that increased fire activity into the future is highly likely,’ he said in an online Australian Science Media Centre briefing.

But hotter, drier climates such as Perth’s fire-prone Hills area, could be spared, with Prof Cary (pictured) claiming climate change would result in a reduced amount of fuel that blazes had to feed on.

‘The question of the effects of climate change on potential fire activity depends very much on location,’ he said .

He added that the key way to reduce the risk of fires would be to move power lines underground in high fire danger areas.

At the same time he acknowledged the cost involved in such a task would run into the billions of dollars.

‘It becomes a benefit-cost situation,’ he said.

In the same briefing, La Trobe University’s Prof Jim McLennan said many residents in bushfire prone areas remained unengaged with bushfire risks warnings.

‘Typically, many of these residents are not mentally engaged with bushfire risk, they have a view that bushfires happen on television and to other people, not to them,’ Prof McLennan said.