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Great Alpine Rd and Alpine Way open as rain eases bushfire threat for Victoria and NSW

January 10, 2007
Great Alpine Rd and Alpine Way open as rain eases bushfire threat  for Victoria and NSW

VICTORIAN STATEWIDE OVERVIEW
Updated 29/01/2007 11am

The total area burned since I July 2006 is 1,186,496 ha. The main areas of the fire effort are the Tambo-Bruthen sectors of the Great Divide South Complex and the Hermit Mountain (Thredbo) fire in far north east Victoria.

Recent cooler temperatures in the Great Divide South have provided some relief to communities and fire-fighters.
The Great Alpine Road and the Buchan Ensay Road are open to all traffic. But many roads and tracks in the fire affected areas in East Gippsland around Omeo, Swifts Ck, Bruthen and Bairnsdale and near Corryong are not safe and have been closed. The Dargo High Plains Road from Dargo to Mt. St Bernard remains closed.

GIPPSLAND
Updated 29/01/07 11am

Great Divide Complex South
The Great Divide Complex South has now burnt about 676,000 ha. Cooler temperatures across the Great Divide South Complex are providing relief to the local community and firefighters; however, limited rainfall amounts in some areas mean there is still potential for active fire behaviour over the coming days.

Tracks and roads within the fire area remain closed to the public. These areas will remain closed for many weeks, possibly months yet.

While the Great Alpine Road and the Buchan-Ensay Road are now open to all traffic many roads and tracks in around Omeo, Swifts Ck, Bruthen and Bairnsdale are not safe and have been closed. The Dargo High Plains Road from Dargo to Mt. St Bernard remains closed.

Tourist facilities in the Buchan, Lakes Entrance, Metung, Bruthen, Omeo, Bairnsdale, Paynesville and surrounding districts are all open.

Motorists need to travel cautiously and slowly on the roads around the fire especially the Great Alpine Road as visibility may be reduced due to smoke, and crews may be working close to the roadside. Please obey all road closures and speed restriction signs in these areas and keep lights on during smoky conditions.

Details of road closures can be found at the VicRoads website. Alternatively listen to ABC Radio or local radio for updates.

NORTH EAST VICTORIA
Updated 29/01/07 11am

Hermit Mountain
The Hermit Mountain fire is about 5000 ha in size, with about 2700 ha in Victoria.
No hotspots have been detected in the New South Wales portion of the fire over the past 5 days and this section has been declared under control.
Tom Groggin Picnic and Camping Area and the Pilot Wilderness, including Bobs Ridge Walking Area, is now open to public use. The Grassy Flat and Murray Gates Trails remain closed, as well as numerous other tracks in the area. Visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website for track closures in NSW.

Although the Tatong and Great Divide Complex North fires are now contained, the areas around the fires could still be considered dangerous. Anyone travelling through areas affected by fire should be alert to the slippery roads and the significant risk of falling trees and dislodged rocks.

Tatong - Watchbox Creek Rd
The fire is now contained.

Great Divide Complex North
This fire is now contained. The Great Divide Complex North has burnt about 370,600 ha (or 3,760 square kilometres).

The drought driven summer raises the spectre of the Black Friday bushfires of 13th January, 1939 the culmination of a summer of destruction in Victoria.

During that January, 1.4 million hectares of Victoria burned. 575 000 hectares of reserved forest and 780 000 of forested Crown land were destroyed.

Over 1000 homes were burnt leaving 1500 in temporary accommodation and 71 people died in the fires.

In one community at Fitzpatricks mill near Matlock, 15 people died - almost the whole community. Many others were killed in sawmilling settlements in forests around Victoria.

The fire followed a drought and a long hot summer. Very strong northerly winds on Friday 13th intensified the flames. Fires which had smoldered uncontrolled during the previous days combined and exploded.

DSE has asked residents in Gippsland to remain alert and continue to listen to ABC radio or contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line throughout the day for regular and local updates on 1800 240 667.

DSE has urged residents to have their bushfire plans ready to activate when required and to take all precautions against radiant heat in the event of an approaching firefront.

Road users are advised that visibility on the roads may be greatly reduced. Please obey all road closures and speed restriction signs in this area and put your lights on during smoky conditions.

ADVICE TO TRAVELLERS AND PARK VISITORS

Updated 29/01/07 11am

Victorians camping on public land over the Australia Day weekend are urged not to light campfires even if there is no total fire ban.

If local restrictions allow and people still choose to have a campfire they must comply with safety regulations and should ensure they take extra care.

Travellers need to check for restricted access to public land affected by fire before leaving home. All townships and some parks and roads are now open but many areas in bushfire affected areas are still closed or hazardous.

Visitors should consider their safety when planning their trips as some parks and forests may be dangerous due to fire activity, emergency traffic in the area or danger from falling trees in burnt areas.

ROADS, TRACKS, PARKS AND FORESTS INFORMATION
Updated 29/01/07 11am

The Fainting Range and Mt Elizabeth areas east of the Great Alpine Road near Tambo Crossing are temporarily closed to the public until they are made safe. All areas west of the Great Alpine Road and north of the Princes Highway remain closed.

Areas close to Mt. Hotham and Dinner Plain remain unburnt and open for visitors. The Australian Alps Walking Trail between Mt. Loch and Cope Hut (Bogong High Plains) and the Feathertop area is now open. The Buchan Caves Reserve, Colquhoun Forest and Regional Park, and Lake Tyers Forest park are also open for visitors.

Baw Baw National Park can now be accessed from Mt Erica and Mt St Gwinear Roads following the reopening of Thomson Valley Road. Visitors should check local restrictions. Thomson Valley Road is now open to Upper Thomson Road. Access is also available to Thomson Dam but a Police roadblock prevents further access towards Aberfeldy Road.

Road Closure Information
The following tracks in the vicinity of the Hermit Mountain fire in Alpine National Park are closed:
- Pinnibar Track from Tom Groggin Station
- Mt Gibbo Track at Mt Anderson Intersection
- Shady Creek Upper Track at Dunstans Track
- Surveyors Creek Track at Surveyors Gap
- Walkers Log Road at Marginal Road
- Wheelers Creek Log Road at Buenba Road
- Dead Finish Track
- Davies Plain Track (at Buckwong Track)
- Tom Groggin Track/Mount Hope Road (at Mt. Anderson Road intersection)
- Davies Plain is now closed

The Great Alpine Road is now open and tourists can travel south from Omeo, through Swifts Creek to Ensay and Bruthen.

Numerous other roads and tracks around Omeo, Swifts Creek, Cobungra, Dargo, Lindenow, Bairnsdale, Bruthen, Tambo Crossing and Ensay areas are not safe and have been closed.
DSE and CFA advise that travellers, campers and bushwalkers MUST obey road closures in all fire areas. Failure to obey these signs endangers both visitors and fire crews,

DSE, VicRoads and Victoria Police are constantly reviewing road closures, and make it a priority to open them as soon as they are declared safe.

Details of road closures can be found at the VicRoads website, or by calling the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.

Park and Forest Closures
All public land to the west of the Great Alpine Road is closed for public safety. The Alpine National Park remains closed to the west of the Great Alpine Road and south of the Dargo High Plains.

An up-to-date map showing National Park areas that have restricted access is available on the Parks Victoria website.

Mitchell River National Park including the Den of Nargun is closed.

Police investigate DANDENONGS-YARRA RANGES fire:

DSE and Lilydale Police are investigating a fire that is suspected to have been deliberately lit in Ferny Creeklast week. The fire burned less than half a hectare at a spot known as Devils Elbow, along Mount Dandenong Tourist Road. DSE firefighters are building a control line around the fire this afternoon and will continue to patrol the area.

Under the Victorian Crimes Act 1958, the maximum penalty for intentionally or recklessly causing a bushfire is up to 15 years imprisonment or a fine of nearly $200,000. Anyone who has information relating to the Ferny Creek fire is asked to contactCrime Stoppers on - 1800 333 000

A poster from the past. The  message is the same today.
A poster from the past. The message is the same today.

Black Friday Jan 13 1939 left blacked forests and 1.4 m hectares burned
Black Friday Jan 13 1939 left blacked forests and 1.4 m hectares burned

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