‘Not out of the woods yet’

DESPITE the Aberfeldy blaze, the largest fire in the state this season, being recently announced as contained, Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley cautioned communities “were not out of the woods yet”.

Last week Mr Lapsley said recent rain provided some respite, with about 70 milimetres of rain near Licola falling in 48 hours, helping reduce fire behaviour.

“But coming into March with a string of warm days, grasslands will dry out quickly and the fire risk will return,” Mr Lapsley said.

The Aberfeldy blaze was announced as contained about 4.30pm on Thursday, which meant the spread had been halted although it may still be burning within the perimeter.

“The fire has burnt over 85,000 hectares,” Mr Lapsley said.

“It has been an arduous 43 days for the crews and incident management team working around the clock on the Aberfeldy fire in extremely remote and rugged terrain.”

He thanked firefighters and volunteers for the thousands of hours of work put in to protect people, properties and communities.

“The hard work of Department of Sustainability and Environment, Parks Victoria and Country Fire Authority crews over the past few months cannot be underestimated,” Mr Lapsley said.