East Gippsland farmers assess bushfire damage

East Gippsland farmers assess bushfire damage

03 February 2011

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — Farmers in eastern Victoria are assessing damage from bushfires caused by hot and windy conditions this week.

A number of bushfires were ignited in the Gippsland region on Tuesday, the largest of which has burnt through 8,000 hectares of bush and grazing land near Orbost.

Further west, farmer Neil Collins lost up to 200 sheep in a fire that broke out near the 90 Mile Beach.

“It was just such a horrendous day. We immediately headed off to try and save some sheep. It was just quite ferocious,” he said.

“I think there were reports of maybe 45 kilometres an hour it was travelling at at one stage.

“Once it got out in the grass, there was just nothing stopping it.”

The Princes Highway in Victoria’s far east Gippsland reopened last night after being closed for 26 hours due to fires.

Isolated dairy farmers around Orbost lost power, as well as road access to their Melbourne markets.

But the perishable milk would not go to waste, as Barry Irvin, of Bega Cheese, says there’s a tradition of dairy companies helping business competitors in emergencies.

“Of course, we immediately went on standby for Murray Goulburn and said that we could bring their product into Bega and process it, and this is something that we do in times of crisis, and most the companies do do,” he said.

“This is something most dairy companies do and recognise is the right thing to do, and despite being competitors in times of crisis you endeavour to help one another.”

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