Friday, December 08, 2006

Its coming This way

We are in a very funny situation well not funny but there is bush fires in hills and they are telling us its heading this way and everyone says nah it will not get to maffra and you wanna believe them as there is no real smoke around but you can see smoke in the hills .The wind is not blowing this direction yet but a forecast wind shift today could change that along with the 35-40 degree days expected on the weekend..

I can once remember fire getting to the outskirt of town but no further. The media releases has warned that Saturday and Sunday could be like night here with total block out by smoke and even going as far as saying maybe to carry a torch around it could be that dark during the day.

Well for our part we will fill up our rubbish bins with water and make sure we have buckets on the ready if we get any ember showers or real danger. I am working all weekend in Sale so i will be constantly in touch with home to see whats happening and i may make the quickest trip ever between sale and maffra if the worst comes this way.

Below is an article out of the Melbourne Herald Sun Newspaper

PRIME Minister John Howard has pledged the defence forces will do everything possible to fight Victoria's worst bushfire threat since Ash Wednesday in 1983.
Mr Howard told Parliament today to pledge the Commonwealth would do all it could to help Victoria cope with the bushfires.
Army fuel tankers and bulldozers driven by soldiers will already be sent into Victoria's north-east to help in the battle against dozens of bushfires, now merging into a mega fire that has so far razed 97,000ha. But Mr Howard today promised to provide any extra defence help Victoria may be seeking. "The situation in Victoria is very serious indeed," he said. "Earlier today I rang the Victorian premier, Mr Bracks, and offered any additional commonwealth assistance that Victoria might stand in need of. "He indicated that he will be writing to me today in relation to some additional assistance from the Australian Defence Force. "I want the people of Victoria to know that we will provide any additional assistance that the premier needs and the two of us will continue to be in close and cooperative contact to make certain the right response is given to help the people of Victoria

Meanwhile at least two houses and a shed have been destroyed in the bushfires so far. Yesterday, an unoccupied house was destroyed at Rose River, near Abbeyard, when two fires merged into a 1,600-hectare blaze. An unoccupied holiday house was razed near a containment line of the Black Range fire on Tuesday. Fire authorities have likened the conditions to those before the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires and 1939's Black Friday, as some fire fronts join along fronts as long as 15km.The army tankers will go to the Mansfield - Whitfield region where there are fears a series of bushfires could merge into a single, giant, firefront over the weekend.
The most recent threat alert, issued just after midday warns several townships of an immedate risk of fire.These include Kevington, Gaffneys Creek, Knockwood, A1 Mine Settlement, Cheshunt, Rose River, Tolmie and Whitfield.
DSE crews and CFA strike teams are working in the area to protect houses and property.
But thousands of Victorians in towns from the alpine mountains to the Gippsland coast are threatened.
A NASA satellite image shows a river of smoke more than 25km wide rising from bushfires and flowing across the state, up the east coast and over the ocean towards Tasmania.
Authorities yesterday warned the fire could raze 600,000ha at the weekend with temperatures hitting 40C, fanned by strong northerly wind.
About 2000 firefighters are now battling 35 fires in the alpine region, where some fires have already linked to form bigger blazes.
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) spokesman Kevin Monk said today some containment lines had been breached - with several blazes linking up. Premier Steve Bracks yesterday urged people to prepare for the worst.
"It is a critical time now, but it is more critical as we approach this weekend," Mr Bracks said.
"The fires we're now facing will be threatening towns. The threats will escalate over the weekend.
"It's going to be one of our most difficult fire weekends in the history of this state."
Residents in and around Licola, Dargo, Cobbannah, Walhalla, Glenmaggie, Briagolong, Bairnsdale, Heyfield, Maffra, Stradbroke, Rosedale and the eastern Stzeleckis have been warned they could be threatened by the fires.
Fires also threaten Mt Buller ski resort and Mt Buffalo national park.
The Ski Club of Victoria yesterday evacuated guests from its Mt Buller lodges because of fire fears.
In the biggest fire - started by lightning strikes on Friday - at Mt Darling, on the eastern side of the alpine national park, almost 27,000ha has been burnt.
CFA duty officer Greg Leach said firefighters were doing their best to build containment lines ahead of the weekend.
"We are trying to use the next two days to our advantage to get some control lines established," he said.
Fires burning in the King Valley, Cheshunt South, Jamieson and north of Dargo were major concerns.By late this morning the fire in State forest at Edi Upper, 10km east of Whitfield had covered 8500ha; a fire at Dan Junction had spread over 8000ha; the Dargo/Black Ranges fire had spread over 5300ha; and the Jamieson fire on Mt Terrible was nearly 5000ha in size.
"The fire in Cheshunt South was very active in the afternoon. It's moved past control lines and if it continues to run through it will hit Mt Buller and Merrijig," he said yesterday.
"Fires in the King Valley are burning towards Lake Buffalo, through a pine plantation and could move into the Mt Buffalo National Park."
Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman Stuart Ord said several fires were in inaccessible areas.
He said a contingent of 40 New Zealand fire fighters were expected to arrive tonight to help.
"With a fire this big you sometimes wonder if there's ever enough staff and equipment to control it," he said.
The DSE is also working closely with Melbourne Water to keep fires out of water catchment areas.
Water Minister John Thwaites said the fires posed a significant threat to the Thomson Dam catchment.
"We have put on a huge boost of resources. Melbourne Water has 82 staff dedicated to fighting fires," he said.
He said water supplies would only be contaminated if heavy rain followed the bushfires.
"There are contingency plans in place for silt traps and booms across tributaries, so if we do get rain we have the means to reduce the risk of contamination," he said.
The Federal Government last night agreed to allow army fuel tankers into the fire zone to help supply diesel fuel for water tankers and bulldozers.
Senator Eric Abetz, Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, blamed the Greens for the fire crisis.
"If you are serious about reducing the bushfire threat, stop advocating more forest lock-ups," he said.
Closer to Melbourne, police have launched a blitz against possible arsonists in the Dandenong Ranges.
"We're throwing everything we've got into this," said Insp Peter Lardner, of Yarra Ranges police.
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast temperatures will reach 37 degrees Celsius and above on Saturday in the areas where the fires were raging.

The following is an article from The AGE Melbourne newspaper where Maffra is mentioned.

THE army and a group of New Zealand firefighters have joined the battle as Victoria's monster bushfires increase in size and ferocity.
As Premier Steve Bracks warned that the blazes were comparable to the state's worst bushfire disaster, 1939's Black Friday, dozens of towns in the north-east and east from Myrtleford to Sale were on standby.
Almost 50 fires have so far razed 100,000 hectares.
Late yesterday, almost 2000 firefighters, with nearly 400 vehicles and 45 aircraft, were tackling fires that are expected to strengthen over the weekend due to high temperatures and a northerly change.
"This (fire) is following a similar pattern to Black Friday in 1939 and this is a similar area and, of course, this area has burnt out before …" said Mr Bracks. "That was an extensive fire which raged right through the alpine areas in Victoria and eventually, after months, burnt out at the coastline."
Authorities believe the fires could combine into a 600,000hectare "super fire" on Saturday.
Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman Stuart Ord said last night: "The fires will get bigger and the fires will merge, so we're not looking forward to the weekend."
Gippsland communities are making preparations as a number of massive blazes hover to their north. The biggest of these is the 30,000-hectare Mount Darling-Mount Cynthia fire, part of the Bairnsdale group.
The Heyfield group of fires, further to the west, covers 16,400 hectares, but will also grow quickly as the conditions change.
The northerly winds expected to arrive later today will then push the fires towards towns such as Maffra, with a population of 4200, and Bairnsdale (11,000), for the first time in half a century.
The third of the "southern" groups is the 9000-hectare Jamieson group, of which the largest fire is around Mount Terrible. It continues to threaten small communities along the Jamieson-Woods Point Road.
Tonight's change will push the Mount Terrible fire towards Woods Point and the Thomson Dam catchment area, which firefighters are preparing furiously to defend.
Half of Woods Point's 30 residents had already evacuated as the fire front edged within 10 kilometres of the township, the owner of the Wood's Point General Store & Post Office, Bill Smithett, said last night.
Those that are staying behind are likely to take refuge in an abandoned mine, which has been set up with a toilet, water and blankets.

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