Smoke haze greets Melbourne at dawn – ‘To think that in 24 hours this fire went from nothing to 40,000 hectares is quite staggering’Posted by Jim at Sunday, January 20, 2013
By JASON DOWLING and BENJAMIN MILLAR
21 January 2013
(Cootamundra Herald) – Victoria is about to enter its most dangerous month historically for bushfires with the deadly Gippsland blaze still a major threat, Premier Ted Baillieu has warned.
''This is a big fire and it is likely to burn for some time,'' Mr Baillieu said of the fire that has taken a life and destroyed homes in the Seaton and Glenmaggie areas.
''It has a long way to go and the agencies are very focused on the prospect that the fire will move back into the forest and into areas that are really inaccessible to firefighters.''
At least 500 fire crews working around the clock to contain the blaze are bracing for high temperatures and strong winds expected to hit Victoria on Thursday.
Country Fire Authority and Department of Sustainability and Environment workers took advantage of milder conditions on Sunday to carry out a backburn operation to help protect towns and properties from the fire, which has already burnt out about 56,000 hectares near Aberfeldy since Thursday.
The 180-hectare backburn five kilometres south of Glenmaggie and six kilometres north-west of Heyfield was spurred by expectations temperatures will return to the high 30s by Thursday.
Mr Baillieu said firefighters were doing their best to contain the fire west of the Macalister River during the moderate weather conditions.
But he said the fire could grow quickly.
''Obviously Licola remains in the line of the fire at the moment,'' he said.
''To think that in nearly 24 hours this fire went from nothing to more than 40,000 hectares is quite staggering. It has moved very quickly, burnt very hard, come out of the forest around Seaton, it has travelled in a south-easterly direction in a sausage sort of footprint, the winds changed and the sausage has started to roll to the north-east - it has got a long way to go,'' he said.
''There is a remaining concern that if the fire gets into the wilderness area it will be very much unfightable and then if the winds turn, it will turn to the south again,'' he said. [more]
By Adrian Lowe
21 January 2013
The smoke haze that greeted Melbourne on Monday morning is expected to clear as crews continue backburning in the state's bushfire zones.
The fire in the Gippsland region has now burnt out 59,000 hectares.
Several homes and properties have been destroyed in the fires, which began in the Baw Baw National Park on Thursday.
One man was killed in his car in Seaton on Friday while the fires raged.
The Bureau of Meteorology expects the smoke haze across the city to clear by Monday afternoon.
The Country Fire Authority has reminded people to reduce speeds when driving on smoke-affected roads.
Fire crews are focusing on a 180-hectare backburn south of Glenmaggie.
The control centre spokesman said that the haze from the backburn would be visible across several communities.
The weather is expected to heat up later this week, with temperatures in Melbourne forecast to reach 37 on Thursday and 29 on Friday. Similar temperatures are forecast for Gippsland. [more]