Fire crews continue to suppress hotspots

RAINFALL across the fire ground around Walhalla has resulted in low fire activity.

Ground crews continue to work on the suppression of hotspots.

Supporting these crews are aircraft undertaking surveillance to identify hotspots and ultimately guiding ground crews to those points.

The resources allocated to the Walhalla-Stoney Creek Rd area include 263 people on the fire ground, with 120 vehicles, 36 heavy machinery and four aircraft supporting them.

Another 16 people at other facilities such as staging areas and air bases are supporting fire crews.

There are 57 people working in the incident management team in Heyfield.

The Walhalla fire, which is still going and subject to an advice warning, began on January 30.

It was caused by a series of lightning strikes hitting the ground 6.7 kilometres north-east of Walhalla.

On February 3, a north-west wind caused the fire to make a run toward Cowwarr and Toongabbie about 6pm.

Emergency warnings were issued for those communities along with Seaton and Heyfield.

The pyro cumulonimbus cloud created by the fire climbed high into the atmosphere and burst through the inversion layer.

The fire was creating its own weather conditions.

About 7pm that day, the incoming south-east stream hit the base of the column causing an unpredictable collapse.

The resulting showers, thunderstorms and extremely strong wind gusts in the area, fanned the fire behaviour and caused the western flank to become the fire front and it changed direction towards Walhalla.

As a consequence, the fire rapidly increased from a little more than 400 hectares, to the current 8677ha in size.

An ongoing firefight followed from the air and on the ground, with Walhalla under direct fire attack.

Recent rain across the fire area reduced the danger to affected communities.

This weather pattern also reduced the number of hot spots near the fire edge.

The cooler and wetter weather has hampered Forest Fire Management Victoria crews in their efforts in the past week, with slippery wet tracks making traversing the fire ground difficult and dangerous for crews on the fire line.

On occasions the crews have been required to withdraw from firefighting duties for safety reasons.

Strong wind has caused additional problems for firefighters. Dangerous trees, weakened by previous fires in 2006 and 2013 have created further danger for the FFMV teams.

A significant amount of work remains for forest rehabilitation around the fire perimeter, making tracks safe, treating dangerous trees and making campgrounds safe for the community.

The Thompson-Jordan Divide fire is about 6400ha in size, bounded on the eastern side by the Thompson Dam.

The resources allocated to this fire include 138 people on the fire ground, with 120 vehicles, 19 heavy machinery and a support aircraft.

Another 10 people at other facilities such as staging areas and air bases are supporting fire crews.

There are 35 people working in the incident management team based in Erica.

Crews continue to work on consolidation of containment lines, hazard tree identification and soil stabilisation works.

Motorists have been told to be aware of additional traffic operating around the fire and to drive to conditions.

The Walhalla Rd is open to Walhalla, but remains closed  b between Thomson Dam Access Rd and the Cricket Ground Track. All walking tracks off Walhalla Rd are closed.