Close shave for Power

A GIPPSLAND Power pre-season altitude camp at Mt Hotham came to an abrupt end on Tuesday evening, when the team had to be airlifted to safety in the face of a Mt Feathertop fire.

Power regional manager Peter Francis, who was part of the camp, said the TAC Cup team managed to contact home base, who in turn alerted the Country Fire Authority and emergency services, and helicopters responded within minutes.

“We were right in the line of the fire,” Mr Francis said.

“All of a sudden it just became bigger and bigger.”

Mr Francis said the group was never in direct danger, and at no stage felt threatened by the fire.

“We were very calm and the boys were fantastic… a couple of them were a bit nervous at the start, but we managed to calm them down and got them off the mountain really quickly.

“The emergency services people were absolutely amazing.”

The camp was scheduled to run until Sunday, with 29 players taking part.

Power management had been cleared of any fire threat by the Mt Hotham board and Parks Victoria prior to embarking on the annual hiking trek on Monday.

While the team building exercise was cut drastically short, Mr Francis said the desired effect had been achieved among the playing group.

“The experience has probably bonded them even more than we thought; they really know each other now,” he said.

“It was an eventful 48 hours.”

The group left most of its gear at Little Feathertop during the hike and was unable to retrieve their property before the evacuation.

The players returned home safely in the early hours of Wednesday morning.