Helpful breeze reverses Grampians blaze

FIREFIGHTERS were hoping favourable weather conditions yesterday would give them the chance to contain the huge fire that has been burning in the Grampians for a week.

A spokesman for the joint CFA and DSE control centre, Graeme Baxter, said a wind change early yesterday morning blew the fire back on itself after it had earlier threatened the Glenisla community, west of the Grampians National Park.

The fire, known as the Victoria Valley complex fire, has so far burnt out more than 31,000 hectares.

Mr Baxter said no significant weather changes that could exacerbate the fire were forecast before Wednesday, when rain was predicted.

“It looks like a mild front will come through Sunday,” he said.

Emergency warnings were issued yesterday morning at 1am and again at 7am for the fire threatened communities but were later downgraded when conditions improved.

A spokesperson for the Horsham incident control centre said the Victoria Valley fire destroyed 1500 hectares of private grassland, 60 sheep, 15 kilometres of fencing and two sheds in the Glenisla area. 

Nearly 300 firefighters were part of the effort yesterday to contain the fire, after nearly 90 had worked overnight into yesterday morning.

Fourteen aircraft, including the air crane Camille, 30 tankers, 51 slip-on vehicles and 10 bulldozers were also deployed.

Watch and Act messages were yesterday issued for  Glenisla, Mooralla, Woohlpooer and the Victoria Valley. 

The Victoria Valley fire kept part of the Henty Highway closed. 

Meanwhile, at least 25 hectares of private property surrounded by native bushland at Myamyn, north of Heywood, was burnt in a blaze believed to have been started by lightning.

Lightning is also believed to be the cause of a fire that burnt a small area of grassland on Kings Lane at Mortlake yesterday afternoon.

More than 200 firefighters from the Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Nullawarre areas have been involved in fighting the Victoria Valley fire.

Fires started by lightning yesterday further stretched firefighting resources. 

One fire at Purdeet near Penshurst yesterday burnt a hayshed and 200 hectares of grass and scrubland. 

There were also small fires at Woolsthorpe,  Caramut,  Nullawarre North and Laang.


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