Town stocks up as fire nears

Town stocks up as fire nears

9 January 2007

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Victoria, Australia — Residents in the isolated Victorian town of Ensay inGippsland have been escorted from the area to stock up on supplies ahead of hot,windy conditions threatening to intensify a bushfire raging nearby.

Fire crews had backburned around bushfires near Tambo Crossing and at BoulderCreek, near Orbost, with a gusty north wind and temperatures in the mid to high30s expected tomorrow and Thursday, Department of Sustainability and Environment(DSE) state duty controller Dennis Ward said.

The tiny town of Tambo Crossing is on alert this morning as the 10,000ha fire,a blow-out from the major Great Divide South fire complex that has burned vasttracts of the state’s high country since December, rages west of the town.

“There’s been a lot of work there. This is one of our challengingsituations at the moment, particularly around Tambo Crossing. There is a threatalert there at present,” Mr Ward said.

“There has been backburning to the west of Tambo Crossing overnight andalso backburning north of Bruthen.

“There has been about 20km of backburning overnight as crews continue towork to strengthen and deepen containment lines ahead of the weather onWednesday and Thursday.”

Residents of the Ensay district, who were trapped when the Great Alpine Roadwas closed at the weekend as the fire flared, were offered the chance to travelto nearby Bruthen today, escorted by police and fire tankers, DSE spokesmanKevin Monk said.

The convoy would allow residents to stock up on food and supplies, and alsoallow anyone who travelled to Ensay to assist them at the weekend to head home,in case the fire intensified tomorrow and cut the Great Alpine Road again, hesaid.

DSE and Country Fire Authority crews have also been backburning around a2140ha fire in forest country at Boulder Creek, between Orbost and CannRiver.

“That presents a bit of a challenge for us, a threat for us,particularly with the weather that has been forecast,” Mr Ward said.

 “We’re expecting very hot and dry weather with very gusty north tonorthwest winds.”

More than 250 people, including 33 New Zealand and 50 NSW firefighters, arebattling the Boulder Creek blaze, supported by 23 bulldozers and six aircraft.

The crews have built 3km of control lines around the fire.

Major bushfires, started by lightning last month, continue to rage inVictoria’s east and northeast.

The Great Divide North and South fires have burned more than 903,000ha ofbush in Victoria’s high country.

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