Wild weather a hindrance for firefighters battling Cobrico peat fire

STILL ONGOING: Emergency services work to manage the Cobrico peat fire. Wet weather across the weekend did not help to extinguish it. Picture: Rob Gunstone
STILL ONGOING: Emergency services work to manage the Cobrico peat fire. Wet weather across the weekend did not help to extinguish it. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Wild weather caused havoc over the weekend, not only for Nitro Circus, but for those battling the peat fires at Cobrico.

Heavy downpours and wind were more of a hindrance than help as CFA crews were unable to access the peat fire ground.

Warrnambool Incident Control Centre media officer Paul Little said contrary to popular opinion, the rain had not been welcomed by those fighting the fire.

“We’ve had the rain which everybody except for us has welcomed,” he said.

“We can’t fight the fire when it is raining.

“It makes everything so slippery for the trucks.

“It’s dangerous for the firefighters in the slippery conditions.”

Mr Little said the weather conditions had meant there was little change as to the extent of the fire.

“The wind and the lack of water going onto the fire apart from the rain has meant the fire hasn’t changed,” he said.

“The rain hasn't been nearly as much as what we are putting on with the fire trucks. Because of the rain and the wind over the weekend we also couldn't get any drones or helicopters up into the air.

“It does set us back.”

Mr Little said a new appliance was coming from Mount Buller to fight the peat fire.

“Hopefully that will help,” he said.

“The plan is still to have the fires out by the end of the month, before the May Racing Carnival.”

He said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had continued to monitor the air quality.

“The EPA are very happy with the levels of carbon monoxide and the smoke,” Mr Little said.

“They are re-calibrating their monitors and moving them to different positions.

“Ambulance Victoria hasn’t transported anyone for a while with any health issues related to the fire. Air quality is good at the moment.”

Mr Little said the peat fire battle was continuing, but the CFA would eventually win.

“It’s like eating the elephant one bite at a time,” he said.

He said there had been no aerial reconnaissance over the weekend.