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New Year's evacuations
A Recommendation to Evacuate will be enacted on Thursday 31 December at 10am for Kennett River, Grey River and Wongarra due to the hot and windy forecast that could impact the current Lorne fires.
Incident Controller, Alistair Drayton, said emergency services were taking no risk ahead of worsening conditions.
“With significant fire still in the landscape, community safety is at the forefront of our planning. We are doing this as a precautionary measure as a result of several hotspots in the Jamieson Track fire that could flare up.
“On Christmas Day we saw this fire take on a life of its own due to Mother Nature. There is potential the fire could run again and we don’t want to take any risk having our community members in these areas. So far, we have escaped any loss of life and this remains my number one priority,” he said.
Police Commander at the Colac Incident Control Centre, Peter Seel, said it was important for all community members to be aware of the evacuation and what this means.
“Today Victoria Police are door knocking these communities to advise the evacuation is going to happen tomorrow so they have forewarning. Police will be present and patrolling in the areas that are evacuated to make sure it is a smooth process and the community feel 100% supported.
“If the forecast conditions do not eventuate tomorrow, residents will only be evacuated for 12 hours and be able to return at 10pm that night,” he said.
Community meetings are being held today in Forrest, Deans Marsh, Apollo Bay and Lorne to update on the current fire in the landscape and what’s ahead.
Drayton said the loss of 116 properties in Wye River and Separation Creek on Christmas Day due to the fire was devastating but could have been a lot worse.
“Last time the fire ran, we asked the community to leave and I have no hesitation doing this again. Many houses burned, but everyone was safe. This was proof of successful planning with emergency services and the community working together,” he said.
Businesses, communities and visitors should remain vigilant and check for updates via www.emergency.vic.gov.au, tuning into ABC Local Radio, downloading the FireReady App, monitoring social media or calling the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on 1800 240 667.