UPDATE: FIRE escape routes throughout Victoria have failed to reach standards recommended by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.Residents have complained about metre-high grass beside the Whittlesea-Yea Rd - the designated escape route for Kinglake residents since the Black Saturday fires. Authorities have assessed Kinglake as having an extreme risk.
Kinglake West resident Peter Bullock said he and his neighbours had contacted VicRoads and Murrindindi Shire Council repeatedly with their concerns.
"It's not good enough. We don't want to see more people die,'' Mr Bullock said.
Recommendation 60 of the Royal Commission urged the state to "amend exemptions in the Victorian Planning Provisions to ensure that the provisions allow for a broad range of roadside works capable of reducing fire risk'', which include roadside clearing.
Recommendation 62 called for VicRoads to implement a systematic statewide program of bushfire risk assessment for all roads for which it is responsible, to ensure comformity with the obligations in the Country Fire Authority Act.
VicRoads regional director Graham Freestone said areas of the Whittlesea-Yea Rd had not been slashed because they were "not easily accessible''.
He said VicRoads finished mowing the Whittlesea-Yea Rd two weeks ago with a reach mower - a tractor with a mower on an extension arm that has limited range.
"VicRoads' grass mowing program complies with the CFA's Roadside Fire Management Guidelines which determines a three-metre slashed area adjacent to the road, where practicable,'' Mr Freestone said.
"The terrain on the Whittlesea-Yea Rd, with moderate to high batters on one side of the road and a drop on the other, makes mowing very difficult.''
Mr Freestone said VicRoads was now targeting other arterial roads in the Murrindindi Shire and would have them completed by the end of January.
But residents fear January will be too late as the heatwave continues.
Fire services commissioner Craig Lapsley admitted there was significant growth in all areas of the state.
"Roadsides are the responsibility of VicRoads or local councils and in some cases relies on neighbouring properties to do their share of the work,'' he said.
"There isn't a policy of having every blade of grass cut, but it is certainly about strategic breaks.''