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Victoria prepares for severe fire conditions

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05 Feb 2013
Fire authorities are bracing for a prolonged period of heightened fire danger over the coming days across the state.

Crews and aircraft, including the four major helicopters, have been bolstered at the Aberfeldy and Harrietville fires.
Resources from around the state have been brought into help fight the fires in anticipation of increased fire activity across Victoria associated with warmer, drier weather forecast from tomorrow until Sunday.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said a Severe Fire Danger Rating was forecast in the South West and North Central Districts and very high elsewhere, with hot, dry and windy conditions. 
“In this type of weather, if a fire starts and takes hold, it may be uncontrollable.
“For residents in areas where the fires are still going, if your plan is to leave, you should do it sooner
rather than later.”
The latest Bureau of Meteorology data shows rainfall across the state over the past month, including in
the Central weather district encompassing Melbourne, was well below average.
“The lack of rain has completely dried most areas of grassland and bush across Victoria,” Mr Lapsley
said.
“This combined with heavy fuel-loads caused by rains and flooding across the state over the past couple
of years means we are faced with a serious fire risk.
“Traditionally, we know that February is a bad month for fires. While we have had a reprieve from the
heat last week, it will only take a few days of hot weather like we have coming up this week, to be faced
with severe or extreme fire danger again.”
Crews at both the Aberfeldy and Harrietville fires have been focussing on back burning, putting out hot spots, and consolidating control lines in preparation for the coming days.
Hundreds of DSE and CFA firefighters, supported by machinery, firefighting vehicles and aircraft have been working around the clock to prepare for the expected severe fire weather.
At the Harrietville fire, back burns have been completed over the past few days to the south of Harrietville to provide greater protection to the town, and another one north west of Mt Hotham to limit the potential spread of the fire, and assist the protection of communities and other assets at Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain.
Firefighters at the Aberfeldy fire have built 300km of control line and have been conducting back burning operations along the Heyfield-Licola Road and other areas in preparation.
The Harrietville fire has burnt about 6500 hectares and the Aberfeldy fire almost 75,000 hectares.

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