Firefighters hurt, several homes lost in Victorian blazes

Firefighters hurt, several homes lost in Victorian blazes

09 February 2014

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Australia — UP to 10 homes have been lost in fires in outer metropolitan Melbourne.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley says up to 10 homes have been lost in Warrandyte, Mickleham/Craigieburn and Gisborne but there have been no significant injuries or deaths.

Mr Lapsley said preliminary estimates were that fewer than 10 properties had been lost in the three outer metropolitan fires.

“The preliminary would say less than 10 and we’ll see what comes as the fires are actually brought to a containment and we can get in and have a proper look at what those impacts are,’’ he told ABC TV.

He said the Sunday afternoon fires were very intense and fast-moving, with strong winds.

A family of five escaped from their home in the northern Melbourne suburb of Warrandyte before it went up in flames.

Kangaroo Ground incident controller Chris Hardman said the Mickleham fire was a very hard, fast-moving grassfire.

“The wind change complicated firefighting efforts and the impact has resulted in the loss of several homes and assets,’’ Mr Hardman said.

He said there had been early reports as many as three houses had been razed, and another damaged, in the Warrandyte area.

Mr Lapsley described Sunday as one of the worst fire days in Victoria’s history.

“This is the most serious fire day we have had in the state in five years,” Mr Lapsley said.

“They have been intense, fast-moving and in some cases have been that fast-moving they have moved onto properties with limited time to warn those residents in that area.”

On the corresponding weekend to Black Saturday, emergency warnings are in place throughout Gippsland and in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and areas north of the city as thousands of hectares burn out of control.

Crews have contained the 10-hectare fire that started in the middle of a residential area in Warrandyte at lunchtime on Sunday but several houses have been destroyed, he said.

“Even though this fire was contained at 10 hectares there have been some terrible losses and heartache for the local community to deal with,’’ Mr Hardman said.

He said crews would continue to monitor and patrol the fire.

More than 350 firefighters and 60 trucks battled the two fires in Mickleham and Warrandyte, while 126 trucks fought the 3000-hectare fire in Gisborne.

Premier Denis Napthine said there was help available for people impacted by blazes.

“The Victorian government has an assistant package in place that will be rolled out immediately for those people who have lost their homes,’’ Dr Napthine said.

“There are family assistance packages.

“We’ll also provide assistance for those who have been relocated because of the fire threat.’’

And there is no expectation conditions will ease until late in the week at least.

“The impact on properties, potential to have impact on life is still real and happening,” Mr Lapsley said.

“Tomorrow will be cooler, however it doesn’t change the conditions, it doesn’t bring rain and we will see the fire danger decrease but the fires still have the potential to do damage over the next number of days,” he said.

While a cool change caused temperatures that approached 40C around noon to drop in the early afternoon, it also worsened the situation as fires turned back on themselves and broke out on new and wider fronts.

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