CFA website crashes as bushfire threat escalates

CFA website crashes as bushfire threat escalates

11 January 2010

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Australia — The Country Fire Authority website that provides live fire updates experienced more problems today.

A server error caused the site to be disrupted this morning, but the CFA says the problem was fixed within minutes.

The same website was down for several hours on a high fire danger day last month, after crashing because of high demand.

A code red catastrophic warning is in force in the Wimmera region in western Victoria today, including the towns of Horsham, Stawell and Halls Gap.

The Weather Bureau says temperatures could reach 45 degrees Celsius in Melbourne today.

CFA Chief Fire Officer Russell Rees says people cannot rely on the website alone for fire information.

“We built a new system, but we also built multiple points of communication,” he said.

We want people to have access to as much information as possible, so go to the multiple points so that if we have a problem in one place the information is available in others.”

False alarm

The Department of Sustainability and Environment says firefighters have found no sign of a fire that was reported in Victoria’s Wimmera district.

Nine DSE units were sent to the St Arnaud Range National Park, three-and-a-half kilometres west of St Arnaud, this morning after a fire spotter in a tower reported seeing a fire.

The DSE says it has not found a fire in the area, but takes all reports seriously.

State of preparation

The Premier, John Brumby, says the preparations for today’s high fire risk are unprecedented.

“I’m confident everything that can be done, has been done,” Mr Brumby said.

“But I also know that if a fire gets away today the speed at which it will travel will be very very rapid indeed.”

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu says the Government should have done more to prepare for today’s fire threat.

“There is certainly anxiety about neighbourhood safer places,” Mr Baillieu said.

“There’s anxiety about the messages that have been sent out.

“It is our view that Victorians are not as well prepared as they should be.

“The Government has left Victorians dangerously unprepared for this bushfire season.”

Future threat

Meanwhile, parts of North Eastern Victoria could face the highest possible fire danger tomorrow.

A Code Red alert is expected to be declared for the North Eastern and Northern Country fire districts.

The North Central district may also be declared Code Red.

Conditions are expected to be similar to those experienced in western Victoria today.

Ewan Waller from the Department of Sustainability and Environment says it is not safe to be in the bush anywhere in Victoria.

“The bush is not a safe place on a day like today, and what is coming tomorrow,” Mr Waller said.

“People should be making arrangements now to move out of the bush and go to a place like a local town, some place which is far safer.”

Arson watch

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland says police will be on the look-out for arsonists across the state today, amid what authorities fear will be the worst bushfire conditions since Black Saturday.

Chief Commissioner Overland says the threat of arson is real, and police will be vigilant.

“I’m not going to go into detail about operational matters but obviously we made two arrests last week,” he said.

“People have now been charged and are before the court around allegedly starting fires.

“So that’s an indication that we’re vigilant and that we’re out there.

“We will be out there again today because it is an extreme weather event.”

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