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Hazelwood mine fires - update 25/2
Gippsland rail commuters leaving their families at home were kept updated with the latest fire developments as they headed for the city today.
Representatives from various departments boarded the trains to explain the situation and give advice about how to cope with the fallout from the fires burning in the Hazelwood open cut mine and what progress was being made to put them out.
Community liaison officer Donna Wheatley boarded the 7.41 from Traralgon this morning and said many passengers disembarked the train equipped with greater knowledge and confidence.
“A big part of our role has been to provide encouragement and empathy to residents who are suffering the worst of the conditions associated with the fires,” Donna said.
Incident Controller Bob Barry said “people appreciate seeing our teams working together in uniform, it’s important for people to know we are on the ground and actually listening to the community, rather than relying on sometimes complex documents.”
The information session will be run again tomorrow on the 7.41am Traralgon-Pakenham train.
In addition to the train sessions, the respite centre on Albert Street in Moe remains open daily from 9am - 7pm and the Community Health Assessment Centre from 8am – 8pm.
The CFA information bus will also continue to be used as a mobile source of information.
Fire challenge: Overnight crews held ground on the fire but strong gusty winds are expected to present a challenge to crews and the risk of fire escalation may increase significantly.
The wind change is expected to impact conditions in and around the mine and may disrupt or halt fire fighting efforts for patrols throughout this afternoon and in to tonight.
The wind change is expected to provide some temporary relief for Morwell, however the path of smoke plume will be directed across the towns of Churchill and Boolarra as a result.
Equipment and tactics: Mr Barry provided an update on how the compressed air foam systems (CAFS) saying the new technology had helped crews gain significant ground in the fire fight.
“The foam is creating a thick blanket on the fire, helping to cool it. In addition to fighting the fire, it is actually reducing the smoke levels in the immediate area which is of the utmost importance to us.”
Equipment and tactics: A greater focus is currently being placed on the northern batters of the mine fire (which are closest to town) and should help reduce smoke levels.