Australia — Threats from bushfires engulfing Victoria’s north and east easedtoday but exhausted firefighters have little chance for rest as they prepare fora second onslaught later in the week.
Fires which raged as a cool change swept across the state very early todayabated as winds dropped off, but the fires are expected to burn for months.
No private property has been lost.
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) spokesman Kevin Monk saidthe DSE and Country Fire Authority (CFA) had two days to build and strengthencontrol lines around houses and properties before conditions heated up again.
Rising temperatures and strengthening winds have been forecast for Wednesdayand Thursday.
“We’re just over one hump, that’s the first one but it’s only December11 and our worst fire conditions are usually in January and February so, if thisburns the same way as the 2003 alpine fires which went for two months, we’ve gota big challenge ahead of us,” Mr Monk said.
The fire has burned 250,000ha and is now 12-20km south of the ThomsonCatchment which supplies 60 per cent of Melbourne’s water.
Bulldozers are extending control lines and backburning is being done.
CFA deputy chief officer Geoff Evans described the ease in the weather as alull before the storm.
“These fires are going to push south again and could again impact oncommunities around Glenmaggie and across to the Bairnsdale area,” Mr Evanssaid on ABC radio.
The impact on most towns has decreased but he said the situation wastemporary.
“This fire will go on for months … we have to keep up communicationwith the community about how the fire is going to progress and where itis.”
Communities north and east of the fires were told to remain vigilant, withresidents at Gaffneys Creek, Jamieson and around Bairnsdale on high alert.