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Grampians fire update 20 January
HORSHAM INCIDENT CONTROL CENTRE - CURRENT FIRE SITUATION
6.00AM UPDATE: Firefighters have made significant progress on the Grampians Northern Complex overnight and in to this morning with the fire almost contained.
Incident Controller Andrew Morrow said crews had focussed on establishing and strengthening containment lines and back burning around the Mt Difficult Range near Halls Gap. He said back burning had been completed along the full length of the southern boundary of the fire, providing containment around the entire perimeter of the fire.
“More favourable weather conditions have allowed us to undertake these works and thanks to the hard work of our ground crews we are now at a stage where this fire is about just about contained,” Mr Morrow said.
“We expect the fire will be fully contained today following some additional consolidation works which is great news for Grampians communities moving in to the recovery stage.”
Mr Morrow said even when the fire was contained, there would still be a lot of work to do in a number of sections of the fire in building control lines and removing any tree hazards.
“Communities and visitors to the Grampians should be mindful that emergency services will be working in the area for some time yet and over the next couple of days, there may be smoke visible from aerial ignitions to complete back burning in the Rose Creek Road section,” he said.
Separate to the Grampians Northern Complex, a fire continues to burn at Black Range, Bunjils Cave Road south-west of Stawell.
“Unexpected conditions caused the fire to cross containment lines yesterday and overnight it has moved towards the Bullochy Mary Road and Ganawarra Road area,” Mr Morrow said.
“The focus has been on a direct attack of the northern part of the fire and consolidating containment lines to provide protection to the township of Stawell.
“Overnight crews have completed a control line from Bunjils Cave Road to Burrong Basin Road and have also built a containment line around the speedway complex.”
Mr Morrow said work would continue around control and containment lines and in putting in place an earth break from Brown Lane, up north to Monaghan Road.
He said a number of key roads are closed including Bullochy Mary Road and Bunjils Cave Road between Pomonal Road/Ganawarra Road and Glue Pot Road.
For a full list of road closures visit www.vicroads.vic.gov.au
GRAMPIANS NORTHERN COMPLEX FIRE RECOVERY
Residents around the Wartook Valley were escorted back to their homes yesterday by Victoria Police and emergency services, with a similar process expected to take place today around Roses Gap and later at Dadswell’s Bridge.
Incident Controller Andrew Morrow said as part of the clean-up and recovery from the Grampians Northern Complex fire, returning residents to their home has been a priority.
“As part of this process we’ve been assessing damage and removing fallen trees and once it’s considered safe to do so, we can allow residents back in to these areas,” he said.
“For many of these residents, it is the first time they would have seen the area since the fire passed through and sadly for some, they are returning to find out their home has been lost.
“We ask people visiting these areas to be mindful of this and the sensitivities involved with moving into the recovery stage of a fire.”
Community meetings held in Dadswell’s Bridge, Halls Gap and Stawell yesterday were well attended. Another community meeting will be held at 10.00am today at Pomonal Hall, Ararat-Pomonal Road.
All relief centres have closed however a community information point is operating from the Horsham Senior Citizens Centre in Roberts Avenue. A recovery centre will be open from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday at the Grampians Community Health, 8 Patrick Street, Stawell.
While towns are re-opening, there are still some issues with water and power supplies as repair works get underway.
GWM Water has turned off the Halls Gap Water Treatment Plant as a result of the fires in the area and boil water notices are in place for Halls Gap and Pomonal until further notice. They have also requested that residents try and limit their water usage while repairs are being done. Bottled water is available at the Halls Gap service station and Pomonal store.
A small number of houses around Brimpaen and Laharum also remain without power and phone access.
The Western Highway between Ballarat and Horsham opened yesterday morning. A number of roads remained closed. Visit www.vicroads.vic.gov.au for more information.
The Grampians National Park is scheduled to open at noon today. For information on parks closures visit www.parks.vic.gov.au or phone the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 131 963.
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.
FIRE QUICK FACTS
- The fire is suspected to have started from lightning on Wednesday, 15 January.
- It is estimated to have burnt more than 52,000 hectares and the perimeter of the fire is 189 kilometres.
- About 7000 stock have been lost. Animal welfare officers are continuing their assessments.
- More than 30 structures have been lost. Assessments are continuing to determine whether these were houses, sheds or other properties. This is in addition to cars and fencing.
- Current resources include 292 personnel, 2 tankers, 36 slip-on vehicles, six dozers, six fixed wing aircraft and seven helicopters. There are also a number of graders, excavators, tractors and support vehicles on scene.
- The Black Range fire has burnt just over 1330 hectares.