‘We’ve got through it’, but firebugs strike

THE worst has passed as a cool change helped efforts to fight the Aberfeldy-Donnelly fire.

But incident controller Dennis Matthews warned the fire could burn for weeks, unless there was significant rainfall.

Wellington Crime Investigation Unit detectives are appealing for witnesses following a suspicious grassfire at Cowwarr this morning.

Emergency services responded to reports of the small fire at the corner of Traralgon-Maffra and Cowwarr-Seaton Rds shortly after 11am.

The fire was quickly extinguished, destroying a small area of grass and bushland. Authorities have examined the fire scene and are now treating the fire as suspicious.

“Those fires didn’t relate to the run of (weather and wind) change,” Mr Matthews said.

Detectives appeal for any witnesses or anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au

A south-westerly wind arrived this morning, blowing the fire away from populated areas.

Winds were predicted to gust at up to 90km/h, but only got to 70km/h in elevated areas and 60km/h elsewhere.

As of this morning, the Aberfeldy-Donnelly fire was 67,989 hectares in size with a current perimeter of more than 416 kilometres. 

Significant resources, consisting of in excess of 500 agency personnel, more than 150 vehicles, and a mix of specialised aircraft are involved in fighting the fire.

Mr Matthews said crews would now concentrate on backburning over the next two weeks, which would produce smoke.

“The fire itelf is presenting no immediate threat to communities, so we’ve got through it,” he said.

“Our aim is to settle this thing right down.”

Local events, such as Australia Day celebrations around the district and the Victorian Country Swimming Championships in Sale, would not be affected.

“There maybe smoke that comes across, but will make for pretty sunsets,” Mr Matthews said.

“There will be no threat to those events and communities unless we’re very unlucky.

“The weather forecast for the nest few days across the long weekend is for a south-westerly influence, a southerly going around to the east, which is high humidity, lower temperatures, not real hot.

“Any winds we get now will be more moderate and easier to work with.”