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Preparing for severe fire conditions
Fire authorities are bracing for a prolonged period of heightened fire danger across the state in the coming days, with crews and aircraft, including the four major helicopters, already bolstered at the Aberfeldy and Harrietville fires.
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Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said a Severe Fire Danger Rating was forecast in the South West and North Central weather districts and Very High rating elsewhere, with hot, dry and windy conditions.
“In this type of weather, if a fire starts and takes hold, it may be uncontrollable,” Mr Lapsley said.
“For residents in areas where the fires are still going, if your plan is to leave, you should do it sooner rather than later.”
The latest Bureau of Meteorology data shows rainfall across the state over the past month, including in the Central weather district encompassing
“The lack of rain has completely dried most areas of grassland and bush across
“This combined with heavy fuel-loads caused by rains and flooding across the state over the past couple of years means we are faced with a serious fire risk.
“Traditionally, we know that February is a bad month for fires. While we had a reprieve from the heat last week, it will only take a few days of hot weather, like we have coming up this week, to be faced with Severe or Extreme fire danger again.”
Crews at both the Aberfeldy and Harrietville fires have been focussing on back burning, putting out hot spots, and consolidating control lines in preparation for the coming days.
Hundreds of DSE and CFA firefighters, supported by machinery, firefighting vehicles and aircraft have been working around the clock to prepare for the expected severe fire weather.
At the Harrietville fire, back burns have been completed over the past few days to the south of Harrietville to provide greater protection to the town, and another one
Firefighters at the Aberfeldy fire have built 300kilometres of control lines and have been conducting back-burning operations along the
The Harrietville fire has burnt around 6500 hectares and the Aberfeldy fire almost 75,000 hectares.