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Mine fires update - 18/2/14
Hazelwood mine fire: Emergency services and supporting agencies will update the community on the current Latrobe Valley mine fires situation at a community meeting being held in Morwell at 6.00pm today.
A range of representatives, including those from CFA, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA and Department of Health will be on hand to answer questions about smoke and health impacts.
Incident Controller Barry Foss said overnight more mild conditions had allowed crews to make good progress on the southern sectors of the Hazelwood mine fire.
“We will continue both ground and aerial attack on the fire, and will increase aerial support today to work on cooling the eastern end of the fire area,” he said.
“EPA reports good air quality in the Valley today, so we’re advising people to take the opportunity to open windows and doors and allow clean air to circulate through their houses, offices and work places.
“The smoke has also abated today, but we encourage everyone to keep monitoring local conditions as they may change with prevailing winds – poor air quality could return when the winds move southerly.”
Anyone with smoke-related health issues should avoid prolonged or heavy physical activity and keep informed about fire activity in their immediate area. In extended, very smoky local conditions, sensitive individuals should consider temporarily staying with a friend or relative living outside the smoke affected area. Others should also consider a break away from the smoky conditions if
Mr Foss said light south-westerly breezes could continue all week but would peak around 40 to 60 km/h on Wednesday and Thursday, further complicating the fire fight.
“We currently have over 200 CFA and MFB fire fighters on this operation, with 100 mine staff, 30 incident management team personnel, nine medical monitoring personnel, supported by numerous tankers, heavy pumping vehicles, aerial ladder vehicles and aircraft,” he said.
“They’re all doing a great job in difficult conditions, with potentially weeks of work ahead of them.
Their safety, and that of the community, is our highest priority and we have brought in additional aircraft today in response to the changing fire and weather conditions and are also setting up unmanned spray systems to reduce the use of fire fighters on the coal face.”
Yallourn mine fire: Fire suppression activities at the Yallourn open cut mine will be increased to continue to extinguish spot fires throughout the disused section of the mine. This may include helicopter water-bombing, depending on weather conditions.
Community meeting and information details: A community meeting will be held tonight, Tuesday February 18 from 6.00pm at Kernot Hall, corner of Princes Drive and Monash Way, Morwell
A limited shuttle bus service will be operating for those without transport. The service will run from 5.00pm with pick-up points at Morwell Bowls club, 52, Hazelwood Road, Morwell, and Latrobe City Council Chambers, 141 Commercial Road, Morwell.
The Mobile Education Unit will be at Mid-Valley shopping centre from 3.00pm till 4.00pm this afternoon and then at Commercial Road in the CBD from 4.30pm till 5.30pm.
There will be Information Points at Moe Coles from 1.00pm till 2.00pm, at Trafalgar Fire station at 4.00pm, at the Morwell Bowls Club from 5.00pm till 7.00pm and at the Newborough Leisure Centre BBQ area at 7.00pm.
Community Officers, supported by the Mobile Education Trailer will be in Moe from 1.00pm till 2.00pm, Trafalgar from 3.00pm till 4.00pm and Newborough from 5.00pm till 6.00pm.
Contacts: For information about smoke and health visit: www.health.vic.gov.au
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