Briagolong fire threat gone amid downpour

Storm clouds tinged with fire pink in Briagolong.

BRIAGOLONG resident Anna Larkin has said the town has returned to normality in the wake of the fires that began on October 1.

While the fire at Duffy Road, Briagolong was officially listed as not under control (as of Sunday 11.21am), VicEmergency on Friday afternoon had indicated there was no immediate threat to the community and no action was required.

“They’re (the authorities) being cautious. But no one in Briag is worried because it went past us anyway,” Ms Larkin told the Gippsland Times on Friday.

“Even the flood waters and puddles have gone away. No one’s worried about it.

“No properties were affected by floods, so (we were enjoying) the rain.”

Ms Larkin, who has more than 25 years experience working with the SES and CFA, said she believed the fire had burned as close as nine kilometres away from the Briagolong town centre. She had observed the fires from her backyard in the northern side from the foothills.

“Fire went from Duffy Rd to the north-east, then it turned and went towards Fernbank and Munro, took a right turn and missed Briagolong,” she said.

Ms Larkin said it was all back to normal except for the Saunders family, whose home was sadly lost in the blaze.

She urged people to test out their fire plan, after finding a flaw in her own.

“We’re used to preparing for fires in November, so to get one on the first day of October is a wake up call,” she said.

Soggy hills, big puddles in Briagolong at 7pm last Tuesday (October 3). Photos: Anna Larkin

“My sense is relief, but also concerned about what happens when the grass dries out. This is real, we’ve got to do something about it.

“It’s time to test your fire plan. We’re still predicting a bad fire season.”

Ms Larkin joined in the criticism of Southern Rural Water from some of the region’s locals, who accused the organisation of being too slow to release water from Lake Glenmaggie, contributing to flooding along the Macalister River.

Southern Rural Water’s managing director, Cameron Fitzgerald, defended the time it took to drain Lake Glenmaggie, saying the weather conditions in the region had exceeded expectations.

“Two days ago we had bushfires, we are in an El Nino event and we do need water for people later in the season to be able to continue to grow their produce, fruit and vegetables and create milk,” he told the ABC last week.

“So we are always thinking about the full balance of how we manage this storage.”

In response, Ms Larkin said “but that’s their job”, and that the organisation had “hedged their bets”.

“They didn’t inform people. Farmers didn’t have time to be organised,” she said.

“This rainfall was very solidly predictable for four days.”

 

Briagolong hills – rain where there was fire.