AIRCRAFT have firebombed stretches of marshland in a last-minute attempt to stop the Kentbruck bushfire from jumping containment lines.
As the blaze enters its eighth day crews are warning today could make or break the monster blaze.
Smoke blanketed the region yesterday as emergency crews rushed to burn off more than 4500 hectares of vegetation and marshland ahead of today’s temperature which could nudge 30 degrees.
Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) crews have dug in on the eastern and north-eastern front of the fire to prevent it from spreading east into the Cobboboonee state forest.
Heywood incident control centre spokesman Chris Clugston said firefighters hoped to have the fire contained by about 8am today before a change forecast to come through the area about 10am.
Gusty north-west winds are predicted for the area ahead of the change, which would switch winds to the south-west.
An electrical storm tipped for last night added more danger to the volatile weather conditions, bringing the risk of lightning fires.
Mr Clugston said containment lines would today be put to the test by the fire, which has so far scorched nearly 7800 hectares.
“The obvious objective today is to stop the fire from spreading over containment lines. If we’ve done good work we should hold it,” Mr Clugston said.
Yesterday, aerial bombers swooped in over heath marshland dropping incendiary devices to set inaccessible wetlands alight.
Tough terrain has hampered firefighting efforts and Mr Clugston said the fire had no front for crews to attack.
Yesterday morning Dartmoor residents were updated by the CFA on the controlled burns and told to be aware of reduced visibility on the Princes Highway and district roads in the Drik Drik, Heywood and surrounding areas.
Incident controller Peter Novotny said the back-burning would create “a vast amount of smoke that might hinder visibility and cause some people to experience health problems”.
The damage bill from the fire includes the loss of 1200 hectares of pine plantations with a value of about $7.5 million.
Andrew Moore, the plantation technical advisor on the incident management team, said the devastation was the largest single loss of plantation assets in the Green Triangle area since the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires.
“Most of the plantations burnt were too young to salvage and this will reduce saw log supply in 20 years’ time,” Andrew Moore said.
The fire effort yesterday included 447 personnel, 52 tankers, 50 slip-on units, 18 vehicles, one earthmoving vehicle and nine aircraft.