FIRE crews from across the south-west are heading off to help colleagues on bushfire battlefronts across the state.
Rotating shifts of 15 to 20 personnel have been flying in and out of Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland this week to do 10 or 12-hour stints.
“It allows volunteers with normal working jobs to take part in the strike teams,” CFA district five duty officer Steve Cooper said yesterday.
“They are flown down for swing shifts, have a rest and then fly home.
“It will continue until we are told we are no longer needed.“Our trucks were driven to fire areas earlier in the week.”
Authorities have praised the efforts of firefighters in containing the Stonyford blaze during the days of high fire conditions since the fire broke out last Wednesday.
Incident controller David Rourke said the past week had demonstrated the most significant and challenging fire weather since Black Saturday.
“The commitment and work undertaken by the team on the fireground and at the incident control centre to contain and hold the fire during this week was fantastic and I wish to pass on my sincerest thank you to everyone involved, especially the families of our staff and volunteers who provide the greatest support,” Mr Rourke said.
About 18 firefighting units were still on the scene yesterday where nearly 600 hectares of grassland east of Cobden has been burnt.
The fire is burning within containment lines but is not yet under control.
Lighter winds yesterday allowed visibility in the area to improve and the Cobden-Stonyford Road was open with speed restrictions in place.
Scoullers and Ansons roads were closed to all traffic.
The CFA advised motorists to avoid the area if possible because fire vehicles were active in the area.
Mr Rourke said on Sunday the incident control team would begin assessing the requirements for rehabilitation of the fire control lines established last week to contain the fire.
“Staff from CFA, DEPI and other agencies have been visiting landowners and will continue to assess their needs for recovery and rehabilitation over the coming days and weeks, with rehabilitation planning and works to restore control lines commencing today (Sunday),” he said.