Watch out for fires

GIPPSLANDERS have been urged to be vigilant of fires this week after a Total Fire Ban was declared in six districts today following predictions of severe fire danger.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned it would be hot and dry with north to northwesterly winds.

Department of Sustainability and Environment regional controller Anthony Costigan said with the Aberfeldy fire having burnt almost 75,000 hectares, stretching from Aberfeldy to Glenmaggie, and the Feathertop fire nudging the northern borders of the region, there was no room for complacency.

“Our crews have done an amazing job consolidating the control lines on the Aberfeldy fire in the lead up to this next bout of hot weather,” Mr Costigan said.

“But this is still a going fire with a perimeter of over 300 kilometres in very steep terrain; there is still a risk of spotovers causing fire control difficulties. Any spotover or new fire started could grow quickly in the forecast weather conditions.”

Mr Costigan said fire crews’ focus was continuing towards containing the Aberfeldy fire and preparing for forecast high fire danger days.

“There are still over 100 firefighters working on this fire, supported by machinery, firefighting vehicles and aircraft,” he said.

Mr Costigan said crews were on high alert for any flare-ups and other fires that might start.

“Landholders are reminded to be extra careful when using machinery in the current tinder dry conditions. Sparks from machinery have been the cause of a number of fires this season already,” he said.

For information on fires in Victoria and general fire safety, phone the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on freecall 1800 240 667 or for hard of hearing customers, the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677.