Update from Deputy Chief Officer Gavin Thompson

There has been significant fire activity across the entire North West region and our members have been kept busy with a number of reasonably sized fires as well as many haystack fires.


Grass fire at Mount Cottrell 14 December 2020

Although this fire season has been different to the 2019/2020 bushfires it has still been a busy start to the season for  regions across the state, including in the North West.

We’ve already dealt with many incidents across our region with hundreds of hectares of land burnt.

Interagency work between CFA and Forest Fire Management Victoria is as strong as ever and driving positive results for the community.

We have seen great work on the fireground as well as in our Incident Control Centres and the two Regional Control Centres. 

CFA districts and regions continue to work alongside one another to respond to incidents and I thank all our members and supporting agencies for their continued collaborative and professional response.

From the commencement of the Fire Danger Period in mid-October there have been eight Total Fire Bans declared in the region which is also across three weather districts (Mallee-5, Northern Country-2 and North Central-1).  More TFBs are expected in coming days.

On 13 December 2020, a fire in Natte Yallock burnt out 32 hectares. This fire was quite complex as it was on the border of District 2 (NWR) and District 15 (West) with appliances attending from both regions.

On 14 December, we led a multi-agency effort to bring a grass fire at Mt Cottrell under control.

More than 21 CFA tankers were supported by other agencies and air tankers to bring the blaze under control as the fire’s perimeter grew to more than five kilometres.

An Emergency Warning was issued during the height of the fire for the communities of Mt Cottrell, Truganina, and Chartwell.  

Crews managed to slow the forward rate of spread, however some sheds and vehicles were destroyed during the fire which burnt about 110 hectares. On 27 December, despite being declared a TFB, a bushfire started on protected public land in Robinvale due to an unattended campfire. About 20 hectares of riverfront forest was burnt.    Declared a Level 2 incident, a Watch and Act message was issued resulting in 25 campers being evacuated from the area. 

A Red Flag Warning was issued by the ICC to the fireground due to the strong winds associated with a weather change.  The winds also meant we were unable to use tactical aircraft to tackle the fire.

Thankfully no injuries were reported, but it is an important reminder for people to be aware of local fire restrictions when travelling throughout Victoria.

 Other significant incidents include:

18 October 2020 - Horse Rescue (Donald D18) animal stuck in a well CFA and VICSES attended  

12 December 2020 - Watchem West, 250 hectares crop and stubble (D18)

23 December 2020 - Girgarre, 20 hectares, Haystack (70 Bales), Crop and pasture (D20)

30 December 2020 - Murchison Road - Colbinabbin, 300 hectares (D20)

While we’re not experiencing a fire season like our last, the risk is still there and we expect there will be battles ahead, particularly with February and March often being our busiest time. We need to make sure we’re prepared for how inherently dangerous firefighting can be, including ensuring our members have completed the Chief Officer’s mandatory pre-season training requirements.

I urge all Victorians to stay informed and safe this summer. Visit the CFA website to stay up to date on current fire restrictions and  visit the Vic Emergency website for incident warnings.

Author: CFA News