Residents return to bushfire-ravaged homes

Residents return to bushfire-ravaged homes

20 January 2013

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Australia — 

Residents have returned to their bushfire-damaged homes in Victoria’s east, as authorities battle to bring a massive blaze under control before more predicted hot weather.

Firefighters took advantage of Sunday’s cooler weather to strategically backburn amid fears towns could again be threatened on Thursday.

The massive 56,000-hectare blaze has already killed one man, who was found in a burnt-out car, and destroyed at least 21 homes since it began in the Baw Baw National Park last Thursday.

There are fears the fire may have been deliberately lit.

Residents in Seaton, Glenmaggie and Glenmaggie Point have returned home.

Glenmaggie resident Peter Monds, a CFA member, was manning phones at a control centre when his home was destroyed.

Inside his uninsured home were many photos and memories.

“There’s no good crying about it,” he told the Nine Network.

“It’s gone, it’s gone.”

Authorities say 21 houses, 35 sheds and 11 vehicles have been lost in the fire and the fire could go for two weeks.

The fire was threatening the small hamlet of Licola, but it has been held about 15 kilometres from the town.

Firefighters began a 180-hectare backburn about 10am on Sunday.

Incident Controller Michael Masters said the CFA and DSE were doing a joint backburn due to the likelihood of a very high fire weather day predicted for Thursday.

“The risk of high temperatures and a north-westerly wind pose a very significant risk to the Aberfeldy-Donnelly bushfire breaking containment lines if we don’t backburn today,” he said.

Mr Masters said the backburn would reduce fuel loads in an unburnt area five kilometres south of Glenmaggie and six kilometres north-west of Heyfield.

Fire crews are also working on the eastern perimeter in the Coongulla state forest north east of Glenmaggie to strengthen containment lines.

Police are appealing for people to come forward if they witnessed anything suspicious in the hours before the blaze started at Aberfeldy in Gippsland about 11.30am on Thursday.

They particularly want to speak to anyone who was camping in the Donnelly Creek Road area on Thursday morning or local residents.

Smoke from the bushfires reached Melbourne on Sunday and could be smelt in the CBD air.

Authorities have urged the public to ensure there is actually a bushfire in their area before reporting it to triple-0.


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