Milder conditions, but fire activity still significant in east Gippsland

Trees continue to pose the greatest safety risk as crews work to re-open roads throughout the fire-affected regions of east Gippsland.
Trees continue to pose the greatest safety risk as crews work to re-open roads throughout the fire-affected regions of east Gippsland.

DESPITE milder conditions, there was still significant fire activity in east Gippsland this week.

Fire in Cape Conran Coastal Park, west of Bemm River, threatened Tamboon and Tamboon South overnight on Tuesday.

A fire column nearly eight kilometres high generated its own weather to bring the community under an emergency warning.

With 14 people remaining in the community, some made their way to the beach to take shelter by the water overnight.

Victoria Police was able to get into the community via its Water Police division on Wednesday morning.

There were no houses lost, but there has been damage to fences.

All 14 people elected to stay and are well-supplied, with communications.

Since Wednesday, fire crews have been conducting back-burning along the East Yeerung track in Cape Conran Coastal Park.

Emergency Management Commissioner Crisp said it was critical people did not become complacent.

"We keep talking about these milder conditions, although it is quite warm out there at the moment, but we are still seeing significant fire activity all across all of east Gippsland and up into the north-east," Commissioner Crisp said.

"Yet again, it's a reminder for people that you need to stay across those local conditions."

Flash flooding remains a concern for emergency services going into the weekend, as possible thunderstorms are forecast this weekend.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Kevin Parkin said the nature of thunderstorms was hit and miss.

"I wish I could tell you the exact street and number," he said.

"Some thunderstorms might bring rainfall of lower intensity, so there probably will be some aspects of the fire ground where they'll be quite grateful to see a bit of rain, but the concern with thunderstorms is most of the time they concentrate the rain to a very short period of time.

"Sometimes even 10mm can cause a fair bit of erosion, particularly when the forest has been cleared from fire, and then all that debris can quite quickly go into the waterways.

"Back in 2003, unfortunately we lost a firefighter to exactly that mechanism - crossing a waterway due to a thunderstorm being nowhere near them at the time, but the water was flowing down so quickly with debris and rocks."

The east Gippsland fires have been burning since November 21.

At the time the Gippsland Times went to print, there were 16 going fires across the state, with seven watch and act messages in place.

A bushfire, burning six kilometres east of Tabberabbera in Wellington Shire's north, was spreading in the Morris Peak Rd area north of Ashlin Track.

Storms brought little to no rain to that particular fire ground overnight on Wednesday, and strong south-easterly winds from 2pm on Thursday were expected to push the fire toward Tabberabbera, Dargo and surrounding communities.

Numerous large uncontrolled bushfires were burning around the Tambo Valley, Benambra and Cobungra areas, with increased activity at Beloka and Shannonvale overnight on Wednesday.

Victoria was still under an air quality warning because of smoke, with moderate to hazardous air quality expected statewide - particularly in areas closer to the bushfires, such as Gippsland.

More than 1000 firefighters are working on the east Gippsland fire, while about 600 or 700 are working on fires in the state's north-east.

Five people have died as a result of the Victorian bushfires.

To stay informed:

  • Visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au;
  • Freecall VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226;
  • Download the VicEmergency app;
  • Visit VicEmergency on Facebook and Twitter; and
  • Listen to emergency broadcasters (ABC Gippsland's frequency in Sale and Bairnsdale is 100.7FM and 828FM).

For information about relief centres, donations, road closures, well-being, returning home, visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au/relief.

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