News & Media

Fire weather puts CFA on front page

By: Leith Hillard

Category: Incidents - Bushfire

  11.29 AM 4 January, 2013

Location: General

Views: 2993

Severe and extreme weather around the state has put CFA on the front page of local newspapers, as volunteers and staff spell out vital fire safety messages for their communities.

The Shepparton News spoke to Toolamba Fire Brigade’s Colin James.

“The Country Fire Authority volunteer has been inspecting the area's water points to make sure firefighters have access to reliable water supplies in an emergency. He said checks were done regularly throughout the fire season to safeguard against changing conditions.

“‘A couple of these are lagoons and sometimes by the end of summer they are empty, so you don't want to rely on them," Mr James said. "We just want to make sure if we've got them marked as a water point we can actually get water there. Especially down here in the bush, fighting a fire, you don't have much time to react [so] you want to know where your nearest reliable water supply is.’

“Mr James has also been checking the accuracy of new track maps. ‘We haven't had these track maps before. It's all been done by satellite, [so] I'm just making sure the tracks are where they're supposed to be.’ he said.

"’Occasionally someone will put in a new CFA tank or there'll be a new track put into a part of the river we haven't been able to get to before. It's really just maintenance.’”

The Border Mail quoted District 24’s Operations Officer John Bigham who said “crews of officers would staff several incident control centres across the Hume region. More planes are also on standby for the next five days, as well as heavy machinery including water carriers and excavators.

“’There's been a lot of time spent planning for this,’ Mr Bigham said.”

The Ballarat Courier included community safety information from District 15 Operations Officer Alfred Mason. He said that the past months had dried out thick undergrowth from the wet winter.

“’Grass growth is high at the moment and when we look at the bush a lot of people are thinking it will be damp but the last couple of months have been very dry,’ he said. ‘The potential for grass and bushfires is probably as high as each other. There's plenty of fuel and all we need is the ignition source and away we go.’

“But Mr Mason said there was no need to panic, and that residents should be prepared instead.”

The Warrnambool Standard spoke to District 5 Operations Officer Steve Giddens who said flame height could reach 32 metres and spot fires could break out more than 4km ahead of a moving front.

"’We have four fire bombers within short flying range and an Erikson helicopter at Ballarat, if needed, plus fixed-wing aircraft to do intelligence flights," he said. ‘We have set up incident control centres at Warrnambool, Hamilton and Heywood.’

“On Wednesday night, about 50 firefighters using 11 trucks, an aircraft and bulldozer were working to contain a blaze at Purrumbete in farmland on the Stony Rises.

“Colac-based Operations Officer Michael Crutchfield said the goal was to form an earth boundary around the fire before extreme weather conditions hit.

"’Accessibility is limited in this country and if a major fire took hold it would be very hard to extinguish,’ he said.

“Earlier in the day sharp-eyed motorists raised the alarm to avert a potential fire disaster near Cudgee.

“Local brigade captain Stuart Drake said there were several 000 calls reporting the fire beside Hopkins Falls Road, east of the Hopkins Highway, shortly after midday. The fire was out in about 20 minutes, saving farmland.

"’The roadside grass was at least half a metre tall on a steep embankment that was hard to reach,’ Mr Drake said.”

The Sunraysia Daily reported that “firies were on high alert with towns including Mildura and Ouyen tipped to have five more days above 40C.

“A grass fire in Koorlong yesterday was just the start of extreme weather conditions firefighters are bracing for as the temperature peaked at 40C about 5pm.”

The Bendigo Advertiser spoke to District 2 Operations Officer Chris Jacobsen who reported that conditions were “absolutely severe through northern and central Victoria.’

“Mr Jacobsen said the potential for large bushfires was a grave concern. ‘We only need a strong north wind and we’re in real trouble,’ he said.”

Last Updated: 04 January 2013