AUSTRALIA – Victoria’s bushfires have finally been contained following a destructive fire season which saw more than 1.5 million hectares burnt across the state.
A joint announcement by the state’s emergency services revealed “all significant fires in Victoria had now been contained” after the Snowy Complex fire in the state’s east was declared contained Thursday.
The rejoice comes after 98 days of ravaging blazes, where emergency personnel worked tirelessly to manage more than 3500 fires that burnt across the state since November 1 last year.
More than 1200 Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFM) staff, thousands of CFA staff and volunteers, over 450 contractors and 408 international firefighters from the US, Canada and NZ had been deployed to assist with the marathon fire effort this season.
“The hard work, professionalism and dedication of the FFM Victoria teams and the whole of the emergency services this fire season has been outstanding,” FFM chief fire officer Chris Hardman said.
“They have suffered the loss of colleagues and spent considerable time away from families to help protect the state.
“I am proud of the work that has been done and that these fires are now contained, and I thank them for their commitment.
“While Victoria remains in the Fire Danger Period, our FFM Victoria teams are now working towards recovery and preparedness.”
CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said it was a relief to see the final significant fire contained after several months of raging activity.
“I am extremely proud, not just of the amazing work by thousands of CFA firefighters and support members, but of the entire emergency services sector as well as the community, which has pulled together to support one another,” Mr Warrington said.
But authorities warned Victorians were still at risk of bushfires, as well as fast-running scrub and grassfires, with fire restrictions remaining in place across all municipalities.
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According to the Bureau of Meteorology, parts of East Gippsland recorded its lowest rainfall on record before and during the treacherous fire period, which contributed to extremely dry forest fuels.
Lightning strikes from several thunderstorm events in December sparked numerous fires, many in difficult and remote terrain in the north-east and eastern parts of the Dividing Range.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said he was “proud” of what crews achieved under the “very challenging” circumstances.
“My thoughts are with the communities impacted by the fires and we will continue to do all we can to support you through the long tail of recovery,” he said.