Fire threat is still looming

GIPPSLANDERS are being told to remain vigilant, with the fire threat still looming.

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull visited fire grounds around Glenaladale and the Fingerboards west of Lindenow on Wednesday and met with landholders whose properties were affected by the fires on Sunday.

“On top of the 14 homes that have been lost in the region, there are considerable stock and shed losses and I would say many hundreds of kilometres of fencing destroyed, with full assessments yet to be completed.

“Among those I spoke to that were impacted were a couple who purchased their property just the day prior and another who was only last year significantly impacted by floods.

Mr Bull said he hoped to visit fire grounds in far east Gippsland on Friday, where considerable work was under way on backburns and establishing control lines.

He praised the efforts of the 500 fire fighters in the region from many other areas around the state, interstate and New Zealand.

State Health Minister David Davis visited Yarram and District Health Service on Tuesday, receiving a first hand account of the impact bushfires were having and the health service’s emergency and community response.

He said medical staff were on hand, over and beyond normal hospital rostering, to respond to the fire emergency.

He said medical staff were on hand, over and beyond normal hospital rostering, to respond to the fire emergency.

Mr Davis praised the health service’s preparedness, saying lessons learnt from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires ensured that Yarram’s communities and its leading health provider were prepared for an extreme bushfire event.

Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells said help was available to eligible households under Victoria’s Personal Hardship Assistance Program.

This included emergency relief assistance, which provided payments of up to $500 per adult and $250 per child up to a maximum of $1250 per household to cover emergency accommodation, food, clothing, or personal items, and personal and financial counselling; and emergency re-establishment assistance, which provided up to $31,050 per household for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding and replacing some damaged contents.

Mr Wells said it was also available to eligible Victorians in extreme hardship whose homes have become uninhabitable as a result of fires.

“People experiencing personal hardship and distress should contact their local council in the first instance, or call the Victorian Emergency Recovery Information Line on 1300 799 232 to enquire about what assistance they may be eligible for,” he added.

“They could also download further information from the Emergency Relief and Recovery Victoria website, at www.recovery.vic.gov.au

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the state government and the Victorian Farmers Federation would work together to deliver an emergency fodder drive for fire affected livestock owners.

“The total loss and damage caused by the fires is not yet clear, but we do know that a number of landholders have lost a large amount of pasture and it is essential they receive emergency supplies,” Mr Walsh said.

The VFF is now appealing for donations.

VFF president Peter Tuohey said anyone with spare fodder to donate was urged to contact the VFF on 1300 882 833.

“Our priority is getting local donations of fodder on the ground as quickly as possible,” Mr Tuohey said.

“We’re also seeking agistment and will be establishing a register on the VFF website identifying who, where and what is available.”