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Elvis farewelled after long season
Aircranes Gypsy Lady and Elvis, which have played a vital part in Victoria’s firefighting response this summer have been farewelled as the bushfire season draws to a close.
Police and Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells was at Essendon Airport this morning to thank Victoria’s firefighters for their enormous efforts during what was a lengthy, challenging and tiring fire season.
“Our firefighters, and the families and employers who support them, should be recognised for their hard work right across Victoria,” Mr Wells said.
Mr Wells said Victoria had a state airfleet of 41 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, including the two aircranes – Gypsy Lady and Elvis – helping Victoria’s firefighters during a busy fire season.
“Since the start of the year, Victoria’s firefighters have fought more than 4,100 grass and bushfires,” Mr Wells said.
“These fires have burnt more than 180,000 hectares and include larger, campaign fires such as the Kentbruck, Harrietville and Aberfeldy fires, which ran for extended periods of time.”
Mr Wells said aircraft had been a vital part of Victoria’s firefighting effort this season, assisting with first attack and major fire suppression, as well as supporting firefighters on the ground.
“Victoria’s fleet has 24 helicopters with waterbombing capacity but the aircranes, which can carry up to 9,000 litres of water or foam while cruising at a speed of 200 km/h, are particularly important,” Mr Wells said.
“Erickson Aircranes – specifically Elvis – are instantly recognisable to Victorian communities and today is a chance to thank the crews of these aircraft before they return overseas.”
Interstate Aircranes Camille and Malcolm also assisted Victoria on specific fires under a national agreement.
Mr Wells said although the fire season was drawing to a close, it was not yet over, with parts of central and western Victoria still very dry.
"Even as late as yesterday the south-west of Victoria experienced fire in the landscape, and I would ask communities to remain alert just a little bit longer,” Mr Wells said.
Mr Wells said Victoria had a number of flexible and adaptable aircraft positioned across the state to see out the end of the fire season.
The aircranes are co-funded through an agreement with the Commonwealth Government.
Images by Keith Pakenham CFA - Communities & Communication.