Fires sparked by lightning

THUNDERSTORMS and lightning moved through the region on Wednesday, sparking numerous fires.

Regional controller Ben Rankin said Wednesday night’s weather caused issues for control of existing fires and initial attack on new starts, challenging firefighting crews and potentially threatening some communities.

“The Thomson Jordan Divide Road fire took a run to the south-east and communities in the Aberfeldy area east of the Thomson Dam were put under Watch and Act,” he said.

The combined size of the Thompson catchment complex of fires, which began in steep, rocky terrain north-west of the Thompson Dam, was 2924 hectares when the Gippsland Times went to print Thursday morning.

“Further east, more fires were starting in remote areas north of Valencia Creek and Briagolong, north of Deptford, south of Simpsons Creek, south-east of Wulgulmerang and east of Bonang.

“Many of these were single tree strikes and were dealt with quickly.”

At the Timbarra fire, north of Buchan, Mr Rankin said machines have completed work on fallback lines and crews will focus on strengthening lines with backburning when the weather conditions permit, ahead of Sunday’s predicted heat.

“The backburning and burning out of fuels within containment lines will generate more smoke in the immediate area,” Mr Rankin said.

The Timbarra fire was 13,108ha at the Gippsland Times’ deadline.

South of Licola, the Greenhills fire has not grown in size — the fire remains at 23 hectares.

Machines have been consolidating fallback lines and ground crews have been constructing containment lines by hand.

Suppression will continue into the weekend using aircraft and ground crews.

A fire that started Tuesday afternoon in a remote northern part of Wilsons Promontory now has a line around it, as crews continue to consolidate the boundary and black out any remaining hot spots.

“This fire only reached two hectares and is expected to be contained soon,” Mr Rankin said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

“We’re expecting to find more fires today as our firetowers and spotter aircraft report in,” Mr Rankin.

“People in our more remote communities are urged to keep a watch on their surrounding forest areas for smoke not associated with known fires and call Triple Zero if they think it might be a new fire.”

On Tuesday, milder conditions helped crews strengthen containment lines around the Timbarra, Thomson and Licola South fires. It is understood all three fires were sparked by lightning.

There have been some property losses from the Timbarra fire, with one shed, one caravan, two kilometres of fence and the historic Glenmore logging huts at Nunnet Rd-Greenhill Track destroyed.

“Aircraft, including three large air tankers and five water-bombing helicopters, have been assisting with this fire and ground crews will use backburning here too if the weather conditions permit, to help hold the fire,” Mr Rankin said.

The Thomson Valley Rd between Thomson Dam Access and the Nine Mile Rds is closed, as is Walhalla Rd north of the Thomson Dam Access Rd. A number of forest tracks are also closed, while the Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort was temporarily closed last Wednesday.