Updated 12.50pm 5/2/13:
GIPPSLAND residents have been urged to stay aware of the risk of fires this week as temperatures are predicted to rise and wind speeds increase.
Department of Sustainability and Environment regional controller Anthony Costigan said with the Aberfeldy fire at almost 75,000 hectares, stretching from Aberfeldy to Glenmaggie, and the Feathertop fire nudging the northern borders of the region, there is 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,” he 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 start could grow quickly in the forecast weather conditions.
“Our focus is on continuing to work towards getting the Aberfeldy fire contained and preparing for the high fire danger days forecast. There are still over 100 firefighters working on this fire, supported by machinery, firefighting vehicles and aircraft.”
DSE and CFA crews will be on high alert for any flare-ups from this fire and for other fires that may 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,” Mr Costigan said.
The Aberfeldy fire is being controlled, with burning out operations to continue today at 20 Acre Creek, east of Heyfield-Licola Road and at Kelly Creek, north of Coongulla. Road users in these areas should slow down, watch out for firefighting vehicles and turn on their headlights in smoky conditions,
Campers are reminded to ensure their campfires are attended at all times and fully extinguished with water until they are cool to touch before leaving campsites. If a Total Fire Ban is in place, no campfires are permitted.
High Country fire yet to be contained
THE fire in the Hotham Heights, Dinner Plain and Harrietville area is yet to be contained.
Back burning will continue today, resulting in smoke being visible in nearby communities and roads.
Warmer weather conditions for the remainder of this week is likely to result in increased fire activity.
The Great Alpine Road is closed between Harrietville and Dinner Plain and the Dargo High Plains Road is closed between the Great Alpine Road and Dargo.
Access to forest and park areas north of Dargo is restricted as the Dargo High Plains Road is closed at Dargo. The township of Dargo is open for business.
The Alpine National Park remains closed around Harrietville.
Report suspicious behaviour
FIRE agencies and Victoria Police also urge everyone to look-out for any suspicious behaviour on high fire danger days, and report it to Crimestoppers on 1300 333 000.
For information on fires in Victoria and general fire safety, phone the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on freecall 1800 240 667 or visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au
Callers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech or communication impairment may contact VBIL via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677.