Firefighters back on deck

Firefighters back on deck

28 December 2006

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Australia — UP to 500 volunteer firefighters are being redeployed to hotspots to face dangerous conditions.

The CFA will send between 400-500 firefighters to Gippsland and the Alps this week, reinforcing the 300 firefighters active in recent days.

They will be sent to danger areas near Dargo and Bairnsdale, Mt Buller and Mt Buffalo, where fires continue to burn in thick bush.

CFA deputy chief officer Craig Lapsley said the weather was expected to stay cool until New Year’s Day but the first week of January could bring more concerns for fire-ravaged communities.

“We are trying to maximise the mild times so we can get control lines in place so that when it heats up again we have better controls in place,” he said.

“Although it is cooler at the moment, the fire is still there and as the weather heats up, we need to be in place.

“The rain we have had has been very much in Melbourne and east of Melbourne.”

Of Victoria’s 28,000 accredited bushfire fighters, 12,000 have been sent to the state’s hotspots in the past three weeks.

“We have been very mindful that the majority of firefighters are from rural areas and are farming in a drought and having to water stock, so we have tailored the rotation system so they are away for shorter periods to reduce the impact on farming responsibilities,” Mr Lapsley said.

DSE spokesman Kevin Monk warned communities near fire-affected regions not to become complacent as conditions again deteriorated in coming weeks.

“Even though we have had rain in some of the fire areas, it was not enough to put the fires out,” he said.

“Just because there are no hotspots on the map does not mean that there is no dire risk, because they may be obscured by cloud.

“There is a lot of work to be done in communities north of Mt Buller, Mt Buffalo, upper Thompson areas, east of Dargo and north of Bairnsdale.”

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