Residents urged to evacuate as Grampians fire bears down

SEVERAL houses were last night under threat from an out-of-control bushfire advancing on the Glenisla area, west of the Grampians National Park.

The Country Fire Authority issued an emergency warning to residents just after 3pm yesterday, urging them to evacuate out of the path of the fire, which has now burnt more than 25,000 hectares in eight days.

“We had an emergency warning issued for the Glenisla area, that area joins the Henty Highway between Horsham and Cavendish,” Deputy Incident Controller Russell Manning said.

“A number of houses in the area were under threat. 

“We’ve got CFA, DSE and Parks Victoria firefighters strategically placed in those positions. 

“We had dozers and graders and they were cutting breaks and the fire hasn’t impacted on private property as such. I’ve heard from one of the units its burnt a bit under the fence of one property but that’s it. 

“It’s just so dry out there, the fire behaviour has been really erratic. As soon as we construct a control line it breaches it. 

“If the fire makes a run at a control line it just goes over.” 

Mr Manning said the Henty Highway remained closed and was likely to remain so for several days. 

He urged motorists to avoid the eastern part of Rocklands Reservoir, although the Balmoral school bus route is not affected. 

Incident Controller Paul Bates, based in Horsham, said firefighters had to “fall back” over Wednesday night after a south-easterly wind increased to between 20km/h and 30km/h. 

He said the higher winds pushed the fire across heath and swamp land, across the Henty Highway towards Rocklands Reservoir.

“We had to fall back and do mainly asset protection with a number of vehicles at people’s homes,” Mr Bates said. 

“They were all well prepared.”

Mr Manning said the tourist centre of Halls Gap had not been affected and the tourist centre at Dunkeld remained open.

He said three public meetings will be held today at Cavendish (10am), Balmoral (1pm) and Dunkeld (5pm) in the local community halls. 

The weather would again be a major factor today. 

“There is still a lot of fire in the Victoria Range,” he said.

“Everything is being prepared for winds between 50km/h and 60km/h overnight. 

“We have got lightning forecast for tonight (Thursday). 

“We have to manage this and what erratic behaviour that might bring, as well as any new fires. We have 350 firefighters on the job today. We’ve got 13 aircraft and 20 bulldozers and graders.” WITH THE AGE

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