Fire could be safe by mid week

The entire Hazelwood mine fire is expected to be declared safe by the middle of this week, Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said on Monday morning.

Fire crews made further in-roads on Friday afternoon, declaring the floor of the mine and the southern part of the southern batter safe.

The northern batter had been declared safe on Thursday.

Control of the three areas has been returned to the mine, with Country Fire Authority crews now dedicated to the knuckle of the southern batter, working in day shifts of 70 people.

All interstate resources are demobilising and heading home.

“I think the achievements have been huge,” Mr Lapsley said.

“It’s all been down to firefighting efforts. The rain they hoped for, they never got and that’s made it a lot harder and a lot longer.

“I think there’s a lot of tired people.”

He said there should be “very minimal” smoke in the coming days and crews aimed to conduct excavation when the wind was heading away from Morwell, to minimise the impact on the town, however wind changes were at times unpredictable.

Mr Lapsley moved to reassure the community the CFA would not simply “walk away” once the fire was safe, saying it would assist mine crews to monitor the situation for the next few weeks.