Some progress made, but fires still burning in Gippsland's east

Mitchell River National Park. Photo: Museum Victoria
Mitchell River National Park. Photo: Museum Victoria

DESPITE some rain in the past few days and milder conditions, there are still sections of fire flaring up in east Gippsland.

Incident controller at the Bairnsdale Incident Control Centre, Stephen Young, said crews had been taking the opportunity during cooler conditions to focus on strengthening control lines, preparing tracks for potential backburning, patrolling and attacking hotspots by hand.

"We have now got the Mitchell River-Billy Goat Bend fire under control over the past few days, which has meant we've been able to reopen the Mitchell River National Park," he said.

"The Mitchell River-Billy Goat Bend fire was one of 17 fires caused by lightning across east Gippsland on November 21.

"Due to a mammoth effort by firefighters, machinery operators, aircraft and our incident control teams, we have reduced the number of going fires to five, with the remainder either contained or under control.

"Controlling the fires continues to be challenging, with very dry forest fuels due to below-average rainfall in recent years.

"It is only the start of summer, so we need the community to remain constantly aware of both the current fires and the risk of new fires starting.

"If you haven't already, please take the time to clean up your properties and ensure you and your family know your bushfire plan well.

"Please keep an eye out for the extra heavy machinery, trucks and fire crews on the roads in the fire-affected areas, and be aware that there are many extra fire crews and machinery on trucks travelling across the region to and from fires.

"Additionally, there may be increased smoke if firefighters ignite backburns to contribute to controlling the fires in the coming week."

Gippslanders and visitors are encouraged to continue to explore the region and go camping, fishing, riding and driving, ensuring local businesses are supported.

The now reopened Mitchell River National Park is popular for camping, walking and river activities, and several other national parks in east Gippsland remain unaffected by the current fires.

Popular parks like Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, Cape Conran Coastal Park and Croajingolong National Park are great to visit and Buchan Caves Reserve is also open and welcoming visitors to undertake cave tours or enjoy a picnic under its shady trees.

Those visiting should check the VicEmergency app or website to ensure travel to safe areas, and remain alert to changing conditions.

At the time the Gippsland Times went to print on Thursday morning, fire sizes for the main bushfires burning in east Gippsland were:

W Tree-Snowy Divide Track fire (10kms east of W-Tree): 10,933 hectares (not yet under control);

Bruthen-Six Mile Track fire (9kms east of Bruthen): 9610 hectares (not yet under control);

Ensay-Fern Tree Creek fire (14km east of Ensay): 3937 hectares (not yet under control);

Marthavale-Barmouth Spur fire (west side of Barmouth Spur): 3122 hectares (not yet under control); and

Goongerah-Yalmy fire (28km west of Goongerah): 2070 hectares (not yet under control)