News National Rain brings relief but bushfire threat leaves no room for complacency

Rain brings relief but bushfire threat leaves no room for complacency

A ushfire front in the Blue Mountains.
Long after the bushfires have stopped burning, the recovery effort will cost millions. Photo: AAP
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A window of favourable weather conditions will help relieve exhausted fire crews in New South Wales and Victoria as they battle more than 120 bushfires still burning.

As of 6.30am, two emergency warnings were still in place in Victoria. That included a new alert issued for East Gippsland with the small towns of Tamboon, Tamboon South and Furnell under threat on Monday morning. 

It comes as family, friends and colleagues mourn the loss of another firefighter killed while trying to save communities. 

Wonthaggi father of two Bill Slade, 60, was working the edge of a fire near Omeo when he was struck by a tree on Saturday. He is the fourth person to die during the Victorian blazes this summer.

The veteran Parks Victoria worker is being remembered as “a true gentleman” who had “the kindest and gentlest of souls” and was “always willing to help anyone in need, no question asked”.

He leaves behind his wife, Carol, and their children, Steph and Ethan.

Bill Slade was killed when he was hit by a tree.

Meanwhile, dangerous fire conditions are expected through much of south-eastern Australia on Monday as two army helicopters will arrive on Kangaroo Island to ship in vital supplies, including fodder.

The SA CFS said warmer weather and unfavourable conditions could lead to fire outbreaks and flare-ups on Monday.

“The CFS advises everyone on Kangaroo Island to be vigilant tomorrow as there may be an escalation in fire activity,” it said.

In NSW’s south coast as much as 25 millimeters of rainfall can be expected on Thursday but, for now, the central and northern coasts have the best chance of showers.

Despite the arrival of some much-needed rain and even thunderstorms, fire authorities warned there’s still no room for complacency.

It will take time to bring under control many of the 111 blazes that continue to rage across the state, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

“While it’s been pleasing to hear of rain falling across parts of the state today, many of these fires will still take some time to fully contain,” the RFS said on Twitter.

Not to forget, the bushfire season is months away from ending.

The warning came after firefighters on Sunday managed to finally contain the Gospers Mountain fire.

Considered one of the county’s most damaging blazes, it has torched more than 512,000 hectares of land in the two-and-a-half months that it’s burnt northwest of Sydney.

It took local, interstate, federal and international agencies to bring down the blaze, with the current fire situation posing no easy feat.

Sydneysiders can continue to expect poor air quality on Monday after a thick haze of smoke blanketed much of the city on Sunday.

The department of planning, industry and environment warned that it would be unhealthy for sensitive people and could cause symptoms, especially in people with heart or lung disease.

As for Victoria, temperatures are forecast to remain between the 20s and the low 30s.

Milder conditions are expected to last throughout the week, with rain developing in the state’s east on Wednesday and extending at least until Saturday.

Fire authorities said that despite the milder conditions, people needed to remain aware of conditions in their area because fires were still active.

About 20 fires were still burning on Sunday and one emergency warning remained in place throughout East Gippsland during the evening.

“We’ve got fairly benign weather conditions, but we still have very active fires in the landscape and people need to stay across their local conditions,” Emergency Management Victoria Commissioner Andrew Crisp.

It will be a difficult week for the state’s firefighting community as they continue battling fires amid grief and shock over the death of Mr Slade, who had been with Parks Victoria for over 40 years.

Two close neighbours took to social media to express their condolences on the firefighter’s death.

“We have all truly lost more than just a friend neighbour & loved one , but a genuine down to earth, honest hard working fabulous man,” Lizzy Rivett wrote on Facebook

Andy Stewart said Mr Slade was “capable of just about anything”.

“Bill was extremely knowledgeable and experienced around fire (if you were on the fireground with him, you knew to heed his advice) and his loss comes as a terrible shock to everyone around the Bass, Woolamai, Wonthaggi area,” Mr Stewart wrote in a Facebook post.

Premier Daniel Andrews sent his condolences to Mr Slade’s wife, Carol, and his two children, Steph and Ethan.

“He was much-loved, an absolute mentor to many, many people … and he will be missed,” Mr Andrews said.

“I think this shows us that this is still a very, very dangerous environment.”

-with AAP