News National Update: Fires threaten Melbourne homes, SA townships

Update: Fires threaten Melbourne homes, SA townships

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· Fire threatens power stations

Updated 9.40am AEDT

The fire danger isn’t over yet for several Victorian communities after the worst bushfires since Black Saturday, while a blaze in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges threatens the Wirrabara township and forest.

Speaking early on Monday, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said the worst fire in the state was on the northern fringe of Melbourne.

Of 25 blazes still burning across the state, Dr Napthine says the Mickleham Road fire, to the west of Kilmore, was considered a risk.

“Probably the worst is called the Mickleham Road fire,” Dr Napthine said on Monday.

He also said fires in Gippsland and in the Latrobe Valley at the Hazelwood open-cut coal mine and the Maryvale paper mill were of concern. There’s been spotting in the Hazelwood coal mine, however he says power generation isn’t currently under risk.

“There has been some spotting into the mine,” Dr Napthine said.

He said fire services were working hard to protect the asset.

“Power generation is operating as normal,” Dr Napthine said.

Fires destroyed up to 20 homes and burned out thousands of hectares of bushland across the state and on Melbourne’s fringes on Sunday and overnight.

Travel routes affected

Road and rail travel through Victoria’s Latrobe Valley is still being disrupted by bushfires.

Victoria’s worst fires in five years caused problems on major roads and regional train services in the state’s east and north of Melbourne on Sunday.

While many roads have reopened, some remain closed and trains in some areas are still affected.

In the Latrobe Valley, the main road through the region, the Princes Highway, remains closed between Morwell and Newborough on Monday.

V/Line spokesman Colin Tyrus says maintenance teams are inspecting fire damage to train tracks on the Gippsland line.

Coach services are now able to use a back road in Yallourn North but there is still no access to Morwell, Mr Tyrus said.

Train services are not operating east of Moe and V/Line is yet to confirm when they will resume.

For the latest information on the Victoria’s fire situation, visit the Country Fire Authority website.

CFA Fire map
Map showing major fire threats in Victoria. Source: CFA

South Australian fires

A bushfire in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges has prompted emergency evacuations. An uncontrolled bushfire is burning towards the Wirrabara township and forest.

The CFS says the fire is travelling north and warns conditions are continually changing.

The Bangor blaze, which has been burning for more than three weeks, has scorched more than 10,000 hectares since Saturday.

The CFS has issued a watch-and-act advice, urging residents to check and follow their bushfire survival plans.

The fire, which has been burning for three weeks, has burnt more than 2000 hectares in the past 24 hours, the CFS said.

CFS spokesman Neil Charter said up to 130 personnel are battling the blaze but reports of a property loss are unconfirmed.

An emergency warning remains current for the region.

The fire is travelling in an easterly and north-easterly direction towards Beetaloo, Beetaloo Valley, Laura, Stone Hut, Wirrabara Township and Wirrabara Forest.

The CFS says there is a risk to homes and life. Heavy smoke was making it difficult for authorities to gather intelligence, Mr Charter said.

“There was an unconfirmed report of a possible asset loss in the Beetaloo Valley,” Mr Charter said.

He said six patients had been relocated from Laura Hospital to Crystal Brook Hospital, but reports the entire Laura Hospital had been evacuated were incorrect.

“They haven’t evacuated. It was six patients being relocated.”

Homes lost in Victoria

Victorian Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley says up to 10 homes have been lost in Warrandyte, Mickleham/Craigieburn and Gisborne but there have been no significant injuries or deaths.

He said said cooler temperatures on Monday would assist firefighters, but the danger remained.

“[Today] will be cooler, however, it doesn’t change the conditions, it doesn’t bring rain and we will see the fire danger decrease but the fire still have the potential to do damage over the next number of days,” he said.

Mr Lapsley said preliminary estimates were that fewer than 10 properties had been lost in the three outer metropolitan fires.

“The preliminary would say less than 10 and we’ll see what comes as the fires are actually brought to a containment and we can get in and have a proper look at what those impacts are,” he told ABC TV.

He said the Sunday afternoon fires were very intense and fast-moving, with strong winds.

Kangaroo Ground incident controller Chris Hardman said the Mickleham fire was a very hard, fast-moving grassfire.

“The wind change complicated firefighting efforts and the impact has resulted in the loss of several homes and assets,” Mr Hardman said.

He said there had been early reports as many as three houses had been razed, and another damaged, in the Warrandyte area.

Help available

Premier Denis Napthine said there was help available for people impacted by the blaze.

“The Victorian government has an assistant package in place that will be rolled out immediately for those people who have lost their homes,” Dr Napthine said.

“There is family assistance packages. We’ll also provide assistance for those who have been relocated because of the fire threat.”

Gippsland residents urged to evacuate

An evacuation notice has been issued for a Gippsland community as several bushfires burn out of control in the area.

Emergency warnings have been issued for a number of Gippsland communities with the region experiences severe fire danger.

Communities near Orbost were urged to evacuate earlier on Sunday, while an evacuation notice was issued for the Delegate River area on Sunday evening.

The notice says an out-of-control fire in the Snowy River National Park is threatening the area.

A southwesterly wind change moving through East Gippsland was due to reach the area at 6pm (AEDT).

Emergencies warnings have been issued for Bonang, Cabanandra, Deddick Valley, Dellicknora and Tubbut which are likely to be affected by the fire.

New fires began on Sunday, in addition to fires that have been burning since they were started by lightning strikes last month.

“I think in the main they were lightning strikes from a couple of weeks ago, but certainly some of the emergency warnings are attached to newer fires,” a State Control Centre spokeswoman told AAP.

Near Bairnsdale there are emergency warnings for a fast-moving, out-of-control bushfire that began at Fernbank.

The communities of Coongulmerang, Delvine, Fernbank, Glenaladale, Hunter Corner, Iguana Creek, The Fingerboards and Woodglen may be affected by the fire.

There is also an emergency warning for a fire at Club Terrace near Orbost where an out-of-control fire is burning.

Communities under threat include Bellbird Creek, Cabbage Tree Creek, Club Terrace, Combienbar and Murrungowar.

Numurkah fire

About 3000 residents of a central Victorian town are under threat from a fast-moving grassfire.

People in Numurkah, about 25km north of Shepparton, have been urged to evacuate to Cobram where it is safe to do so, however for some it is too late to leave.

The CFA says residents in the town’s northern fringes have should take shelter inside.

Local incident control spokesman Robert Scott said the threat had increased from earlier in the day after a new fire started at Reilly’s Pit Road.

“It’s actually impacting on Numurkah,” Mr Scott said.

“It’s not heading towards Shepparton at the moment. If we get the southerly winds it will blow it away from Shepparton,” he said.