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Hazelwood open cut mine fire
This page was regularly updated during the response phase of the Hazelwood mine fire. For relief and recovery information see recovery.vic.gov.au.
Monday 17 March:
Health: Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester, today lifted the advice for temporary relocation of vulnerable groups in the southern parts of Morwell, saying they can now plan to return to their homes and workplaces.
“The Fire Services Commissioner has advised me the fire in the Hazelwood open cut mine is now controlled,” Dr Lester said.
"The crucial factor is that air quality, particularly the PM 2.5 level, has improved significantly.”
“This now means people over 65, pre-school aged children, pregnant women and those with pre-existing heart or lung conditions can progressively return to their home or their place of work in the southern parts of Morwell.
“Assistance and information about the clean-up of homes and business premises will be made available through the Department of Human Services and Latrobe City Council.”
Dr Lester said the health of the people of Morwell is her first priority.
“The Department of Health will continue to be advised by the Environment Protection Authority of its continuing air quality data. We will also be advised of any change in the fire behaviour,” she said.
Dr Lester confirmed the Community Health Assessment Centre will continue to operate until the end of the month.
“It has been an important service and provided residents with reassurance about their health through health checks and advice from ambulance paramedics and nurses,” she said.
Fire fight: Incident Controller John Haynes today confirmed that weekend rain had taken heat out of the mine floor but made it more difficult for firefighters to reach hot spots in the batters.
“The wetter weather provided some relief but also presented new challenges and work was mostly halted in the mine while it rained on Saturday afternoon and night,” he said.
“The fire remains controlled and over the past few days we have kept making good progress on the hot spots by ripping up the coal and dousing it with water.
“This is a slow process and will most likely continue for a few more weeks – weather permitting - but the fire isn’t throwing up much smoke and the remaining hot spots are being dealt with quickly.”
Mr Haynes thanked all involved in what has been a massive and long-running (36 days) operation.
- The Moe Town Hall respite centre is open on Albert Street from 9am - 6pm and offers a relaxed air conditioned space to have a cuppa and take a break from the smoke.
- The Community Information and Recovery Centre will be open from 9am - 6pm daily and is located at 22 Hazelwood Street, Morwell. The centre offers support and information from council, DHS, Red Cross, CFA, Victorian Council of Churches and other key agencies.
- The Community Health Assessment Centre is open from 8.00am till 8.00pm at the Ambulance Victoria Gippsland Regional Office, 2 Saskia Way in Morwell, next to the Mid-Valley Shopping Centre.
- A holiday house scheme has been put in place to provide accommodation support. If you would like to offer your holiday house or use the accommodation on offer, please call 1300 366 356 to register your details.
- If you are leaving Morwell overnight, of for a longer period, you can register your details with the Red CrossRegister.Find.Unite service to help you let family, friends or neighbours know where you have gone. Visit www.redcross.org.au or call 1800 727 077.
- Latrobe City Council is working with local event organisers to create opportunities for residents to take a break from the smoky conditions. Upcoming events include the Fiddlehead Festival in Yinnar on Saturday 15 March. Bus transportation will be offered. Further details can be found on the Latrobe City website.
Find out more by calling the Department of Human Services on 1800 006 468 and make an appointment to discuss your needs.
Previous mine fire updates
USEFUL LINKS / CONTACTS:
For information about smoke and health visit: www.health.vic.gov.au/hazelwood
Anyone with concerns about their health should seek medical advice or call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24.
For information on air quality, visit: www.epa.vic.gov.au
Department of Education - School closures
For fire information, warnings and advice, visit: www.emergency.vic.gov.au