Kentbruck fire smoke reaches Warrnambool

WARRNAMBOOL is smoked out as south westerly winds spread smoke from the massive Kentbruck fires across the south-west.

A heavy haze drifted over the city around 10am after a wind change swept through the fire area about 9am this morning, about 130 kilometres away from Warrnambool.

The smoke and clear distinct smell of burnt vegetation has prompted a few calls from concerned members of the public at Mailors Flat and Hexham near Warrnambool who were concerned there was a fire nearby.

The State Health Department advised people who were experiencing any health problems due to smoke exposure to seek medical advice or call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.

A media spokesman for the fire control centre at Heywood, Chris Clugston, said extensive fire control lines that had been quickly established during the week had held firm this morning despite a change in wind direction from northerly to south-westerly.

He said the fire remains contained and winds in the area were mild.

The fire began a week ago and has burnt 11890 hectares, with the area blackened expanding by about 4500 hectares yesterday in a huge back burning operation.

"The guys did an excellent job," Mr Clugston said of yesterday's back burning.

He said fire fighters were being stood down today with about 50 presently patrolling containment lines.

That number is a dramatic drop from the more than 750 who were deployed to fire the fire in a 24-hour operation earlier in the week.

The huge operation has prevented any homes from being lost.

Most of the area burnt has been native vegetation in rough terrain in the Lower Glenelg National Park but the damage toll has included 1200 hectares of pine plantation and blue gum plantation.

Mr Clugston said many Country Fire Authority volunteers had returned from the fire to their home brigades throughout Victoria to be ready if there was a fire in their areas during today, which is a day of total fire ban throughout Victoria.

"There has been a big effort from a lot of volunteers which is greatly appreciated," Mr Clugston said.

He said a total of about 80 personnel remained in the area today to keep the fire contained and fire fighters were likely to continue mopping up for another week.

"We are still consolidating those containment lines."

Aircraft were also flying over the fire area to spot any outbreaks.

Mr Clugston said the next significant fire day was likely to be this Tuesday when temperatures and winds were forecast to increase.

He said an information officer would be at the Dartmoor general store from 11am-1pm tomorrow (Saturday, Jan 12) to provide up-to-date information to the public about the fire.

Roads closed because of the fire are the Winnap-Nelson Road between the intersection with Portland-Nelson Road and the Princes Highway at Winnap, and the Wanwin Road and Bonds Road within the Lower Glenelg National Park.

The fire has also closed the Cobbobboonee National Park, including all camping areas; the Swan Lake and Lake Monibeong (Mombeong) camping areas in the Discovery Bay National Park; all camp sites on the north side of Glenelg River, except Princess Margaret Rose Caves and campground, and on the south side from Pines Landing to Pritchards in the Lower Glenelg National Park.

The Glenelg River is closed to canoeing and boating from the Princes Highway at Dartmoor to Skipworth Springs.

The areas closed on the Great South West Walk are Portland to Battersby's Camp, and Mount Richmond to Nelson.

Further information is available from the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667 or www.cfa.vic.gov.au.

ehimmelreich@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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