Gippsland faces renewd fire risk

Gippsland faces renewed fire risk

7 January 2007

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Australia — Residents in Gippsland are under renewed threatfrom a monster fire that has been burning out of control for more than a month.

The blaze has destroyed 900,000 hectares in the state’s north-east andGippsland region, and has intensified under hot, blustery conditions.

Bullumwaal, Waterholes, Clifton Creek, Fairhope, Granite Rock, Sarsfield,Wiseleigh, Bruthen and Tambo Crossing are on high alert.

The first of 52 Canadian firefighters arrived in Melbourne this afternoon tohelp battle the bushfires burning out of control in Victoria’s east.

The specialist contingent will initially be based at Heyfield, in EastGippsland, providing top-level relief to Victorian firefighters for four weeks.

The crew of 45 men and seven women includes nine rappellers, trained toabseil into remote fire grounds from helicopters, and seven specialist emergencycoordination personnel.

Earlier today, a bushfire near Kinglake, north-east of Melbourne, wascontained after threatening to rip through homes.

The fire, which is believed to have been sparked by arsonists, had residentsin the Kinglake, Steels Creek and Dixons Creek areas on high alert.

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) spokesman Stuart Ord saidthe fire was contained at midnight.

“That one had potential to be pretty devastating given the number ofpeople and private properties … that fire could have really taken off,”he said.

Renewed threat

Mr Ord said the Gippsland fire spread up to 10km last night, threateninghomes in nine townships with ember attack.

He said the threat level would increase during the afternoon, with anorth-easterly wind change expected to spark erratic fire behaviour.

Tambo Crossing could come under direct threat, he said.

Another fire at Boulder Creek in Gippsland spotted outside control lines lastnight.

The fire has burned 1700 hectares between Orbost and Cann River.

Mr Ord said firefighters hoped to contain the blaze before the wind flared upagain.

Cabbage Tree Creek, Cape Conran, Bemm River and Bellbird Creek are on alert.

The Princes Highway was closed for two hours yesterday and firefighters areagain urging motorists to stay clear of the area.

They are encouraging people to avoid the highway between Bairnsdale andOrbost and instead take the coastal route via Lakes Entrance.

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