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Grampians fire update - 18 Jan
5.30AM UPDATE: Emergency services continued to work overnight on the Grampians Northern Complex fire which is still threatening the towns of Dadswell’s Bridge and Halls Gap.
A southerly wind change moved across the area from about 8.00pm and caused erratic fire behaviour for several hours.
Incident Controller Andrew Morrow said due to the strong winds, the fire spread in a northerly direction towards St Helen’s Plains, closing the Western Highway.
“An Emergency Warning was issued to this area advising residents that spot fires and ember attacks were occurring. As of 5.00am we were able to contain this section of the fire,” he said.
“We advised that leaving at the time was the safest option as fire behaviour was extremely unpredictable and conditions were becoming increasingly dangerous.”
Mr Morrow praised the efforts of ground crews saying they did a fantastic job overnight and in to this morning in some testy conditions.
“But there is plenty of work still to be done in containing the fire and moving in to the recovery stage,” he said.
There have been reports of impacts on two properties near Dadswell’s Bridge.
“This morning in daylight hours we will be able to get a better assessment of what has occurred overnight and what needs to be done over the next few days,” Mr Morrow said.
He said this would include reopening roads, particularly the Western Highway and the Henty Highway which is expected to open at 7.00am. Residents and visitors to the area can keep up-to-date with the latest on road closures at www.vicroads.vic.gov.au. Rail services are also planned to resume.
“A focus will also be on clearing any tree hazards, however residents need to be aware that this remains a danger after any fire,” Mr Morrow said.
“Today we’ll also look where we can return those who have evacuated to their homes.”
Residents should stay up-to-date with the latest warnings and advice by tuning in to ABC local radio, commercial and designated community radio stations or Sky News TV, via emergency.vic.gov.au, by downloading the FireReady smartphone application, through CFA’s Twitter and Facebook accounts or by phoning the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.
“While the threat has eased in some areas, residents and visitors to the area need to be aware that the situation can change at any time and they need to be ready to act,” Mr Morrow said.
GRAMPIANS NORTHERN COMPLEX FIRE QUICK FACTS
- The fire is suspected to have started from lightning on Wednesday, 15 January.
- It is estimated to have burnt more than 51,000 hectares.
- Stock losses are around 7500. Assessments are continuing.
- Approximately 500 people have attended relief centres at Horsham, Stawell and Ararat over the past few days.
- Current resources include 556 personnel, 81 tankers, 38 slip-on vehicles, seven dozers, four fixed wing aircraft and six helicopters. There are also a number of graders, excavators and support vehicles on scene.
- Supplying around 1500 meals to firefighters per day.
- Horsham – Senior Citizens Centre, Roberts Avenue
- Stawell – Leisure Centre, 49-51 Houston Street
- Ararat – Performing Arts Centre, Barkly Street