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Old fire to be extinguished

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A fire that may have been burning since the 1970s in a disused part of a Victorian mine will have to finally be put out as it now appears to have a new source of oxygen.

The fire, nicknamed Old Faithful, has been smouldering for years in the Hazelwood open-cut mine’s northern batters under a clay cap placed by mine operators to block its oxygen supply.

CFA incident controller Bob Barry said that since fires came through the area in February, Old Faithful seemed to be smoking more.

“It could get progressively worse because they don’t know where the oxygen source is coming from,” Mr Barry said on Wednesday.

“The best thing for us to do at the moment is to pull the clay off and see what’s underneath and if we can suppress it, let’s dig it out and suppress it once and for all.”

Machinery will be brought in on Thursday morning to break open to cap. Mr Barry said the fire “could have been burning since the `77 fires”.

“Every now and again it pops up with a little bit of smoke,” Mr Barry said.

Old Faithful is not related to the February 9 blaze which caused smoke to blanket the nearby town of Morwell.

He said to put Old Faithful out once and for all would be a significant win.

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