Our staff have been conducting critical fire management work across Victoria in recent weeks.

Hundreds of Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) staff have been working tirelessly to contain a number of bushfires in difficult terrain.

It has been a busy summer, with our teams responding to more than 800 fires on public land since December 1.

Personnel from across the state have been deployed on rotating rosters over the past few weeks to support the emergency response in Gippsland.

Gippsland has been battling a number of large fires since early January.

Staff from all business areas have been both out in the field on fire grounds and within the multiple Incident Control Centres (ICC) and Regional Control Centre (RCC)

Both our FFMVic on ground crews and those in the ICCs and RCCs have also had amazing support from our colleagues at the CFA, SES, EMV and other local departments, councils and agencies.

After a burst of bad weather increased the fire activity at the Timbarra bushfire, by Monday, February 18 the fire had reached more than 20,000 hectares in size and is not yet under control, but the Rosedale and Thomson Divide fires are under control and the Walhalla fire was recently contained.

Crews from all regions have jumped in to help out Gippsland staff, with Central Victorian and Mallee staff deployed on rotating rosters over the past few weeks to support local staff and lead rotating Incident Management Teams.

Crews will continue to support colleagues in the Gippsland region.

In the Barwon South West region, FFMVic and CFA crews recently worked around the clock to contain a 37-hectare grassfire at Lake Connewarre, near Barwon Heads.

The fire, which was started by a lightning strike, was located in difficult-to-access swampland.

Firebombing aircraft dropping retardant on the surrounding areas, while machinery constructed a break around the fire’s perimeter.

Firefighters worked over the weekend to extinguish the fire and remained at Lake Connewarre during the week patrolling the area and planning rehabilitation works.

Crews in the Hume region have been busy after responding to 230 fires since this year, with 89 started by campfires and 101 from lightning.

Lightning has been of particularly concern, especially when locating single tree lightning strike fires… they can be like finding a needle in a hay stack.

Recently firefighters were called to a fire started by a lightning strike at Watchbox Creek, 8km east of Tatong.

Rappel firefighters were first to locate the fire from the air on February 4, rappelling to the fireground from a helicopter and commencing containment works. Crews from Benalla were also deployed to the fire.

Once on the ground, firefighters constructed a containment line around the fire, dealt with burning trees and broke up smouldering logs.

Throughout summer we have been undertaking surveillance flights to detect any new fires, with fire detection towers operating for extended hours amid increased threats of lightning this week.

The region’s two rappel crews, which are based at Ovens, are also on standby to rapidly deploy to any new fires.

In the Midlands District of the Grampians region, crews from FFMVic Daylesford initially responded to a reported lightning strike on the evening of Saturday, February 2 at Hepburn, one of the highest fire risk towns in Victoria.

The fire was on private property but spread into Hepburn Regional Park, an area of steep and rocky terrain. Supporting crews assisted from CFA and other FFMVic locations across the Midlands District.

The terrain and dense vegetation at the southern end of the fireground meant crews were unable to create a perimeter around the fire by bulldozer, so waterbombing aircraft – helicopters and fixed – were used to target hotspots which were detected by aerial infra-red scanners.

Ground crews were required to construct rake hoe lines – an arduous task given the conditions.

While limited to 28 hectares, containment was not achieved until the following Monday, with the fire posing significant risk to local communities and potentially surrounding areas.

A community recovery centre was set up at Victoria Park in Daylesford, with a morning tea held at Hepburn Fire Station on Sunday that Emergency Services Commissioner Andrew Crisp attended; a community meeting held at Daylesford Town Hall on Sunday night; a community barbecue held at Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve on Monday night; and a meeting with Hepburn Primary School on Tuesday morning to allow emergency services personnel to provide reassurance to the young students.

Crews continue to monitor the fireground.

We want to take the opportunity to praise the efforts of our staff under stressful and difficult circumstances.

Well done to all our firefighters. Keep safe while performing this vital work on behalf of the community.

We appreciate the support of communities impacted by these fires, and are grateful for the generous support of our fellow member agencies including CFA, NSW RFS, NSW National Parks and the SES.

Community members and residents should always check emergency.vic.gov.au or download the VicEmergency app for the current status of fires.

CFA and FFMVic crews working together- Lake Connewarre


Helicopters
Walhalla-Stoney Ck Dawson sector


Helicopters

Page last updated: 25/02/19

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