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Wodonga West fire could worsen on Tuesday
Firefighters warned people yesterday in West Wodonga to prepare for the possibility that a fire burning 6 kilometres west of the city could threaten properties on the urban fringe on Tuesday 16 December.
*** UPDATE: 4.30PM 16 December ***
The 170-hectare fire is burning west of the city’s urban fringe towards the township of West Wodonga. The large airtankers have been deployed for the first time to assist with the fire by dropping retardant.
A Watch and Act warning is current for the West Wodonga fire telling residents that conditions remain severe and to keep informed as the situation may deteriorate quickly.
The priority is to contain/control the fire before conditions worsen with strengthening winds later today. There are concerns between now and 7pm.
Police have doorknocked homes and businesses to advise residents of the fire, and a community meeting was held at Victoria Lutheran College in Drage Road, Wodonga at 3.30pm.
Fire crews on the ground and in the air will spend Monday night working to contain the fire, however authorities fear Tuesday's significantly increasing fire danger will make it difficult to control.
Severe fire danger was forecast for the North East Fire Weather District and a Total Fire Ban has been declared for Tuesday 16 December.
CFA District 24 Operations Manager Paul King urged residents to monitor conditions and stay informed.
“We’re facing the very real possibility that this fire won’t be contained and could flare up significantly on Tuesday as the fire danger reaches severe with winds gusting up to 60 kilometres per hour,” Mr King said.
“Residents on the western fringe of Wodonga must be prepared to leave early on Tuesday morning and they need to monitor conditions and stay informed through ABC radio, the FireReady app, Victorian Bushfire Information Line (1800 240 667) and the Vic Emergency website.”
The fire is believed to have been sparked by lightning around 2:30pm on Monday. Around 100 firefighters in more than 25 trucks, as well as several aircraft and heavy machinery are battling the blaze.
An advice message has been issued for surrounding communities.
Mr King said it was too late for residents to prepare now but they could ensure they are ready to act quickly if the fire threatened properties.
“If you live next to grassland and a grassfire starts, you need to quickly move a one or two streets away from the fire.
Avoid driving in a grassfire because it will be smoky and hard to see. Traffic jams and accidents are likely. You also need to keep the roads clear for emergency services.
If you don’t live directly next to grassland and a grassfire starts, it’s safer to stay where you are because it’s very unlikely a fire will spread past the first row of fences and houses.
Don’t try to get a closer look at a grassfire – you will put yourself and others in danger.”