Thursday, January 17, 2013

Latest: Out of control bushfire threatens homes in Victoria's east - The Australian



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Fire storms over a hill at Maffra in Gippsland. Picture: Simon Noble/Instagram Source: Supplied




FOLLOW latest latest updates from the fire zone and authorities below. As information is available we will publish details in this article page. Keep checking for updates



8.30AM: Fire is said to moving towards Glenmaggie caravan park, and is said to be within several hundred metres.


8.26AM: Ben May was helping his uncle in Seaton and said they left the house at 4am when the neighbouring property was engulfed in flames.


"The house next to us just exploded. The fire went around it and in 10 seconds it was gone. When we left, the fire was around everywhere.



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A water-bombing helicopter puts out a bushfire in Victoria. Picture: Brodie White/Instagram



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"I don’t know how many houses are gone but there are houses all up in the bush. The chance of them being okay is slim and it’s too dark for a helicopter."

BEFORE 8AM: The CFA issued emergency warnings for Glenmaggie and Licola areas in Gippsland.



Licola, 250km east of Melbourne, and the surrounding areas are now surrounded and it is too late to leave as the fast moving bushfire approaches.



Glenmaggie Twitter pic


The ominous glow of red flames approaching the Glenmaggie region overnight. Picture: roxanne_toma/Twitter



It has just hit Licola Rd.


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The fire front is expected to affect Seaton, Dawson, Heyfield, Newry, Toongabbie, Cowwar, Lake Glenmaggie, Glenmaggie and all adjoining bush areas immediately.



Glenmaggie Twitter pic


A view outside the front door of a Glenmaggie home as dawn broke this morning. Picture: 54bubble (Leonie Moran)/Twitter



The area is about 200km east of Melbourne.


"These towns are under imminent threat from the fire front," the CFA said.


A CFA spokeswoman said the fire, which started in Aberfeldy in the Baw Baw shire, is now between 8000 and 9000 hectares in size and moving in a southeasterly direction.


6.30AM: CFA state duty officer Gary Weir told 3AW that northern and easterly winds were causing spot fires on populated farm areas.


“Seaton and Dawson are actually just ahead of the Aberfeldy fire which is the main fire front but we’re getting spotting into Coongulla, Glenmaggie, Seaton, Heyfield, Glenmaggie Point and localities around those places.”


Barry from the Montana caravan park in Glenmaggie said the fire had been burning away from his property but that may change.


“At the moment, it’s heading to Glenmaggie and those areas there into Seaton and Dawson which is coming out of the bush onto the private properties now," he said.


"But what we’re waiting for is this wind change. This south-westerly wind change apparently due somewhere between 8am and 10am.”


Locals have reported three houses were lost in Seaton and heavy smoke was blanketing the Glenmaggie area.




STAY SAFE


The Herald Sun has joined with fire authorities to keep Victorians informed. Check out the Bushfire Ready page for the latest advice, warnings and videos from the CFA. This page is updated with the latest warnings from across the state. Save it to your bookmarks. You can access it from our homepage (click on Bushfire Ready) from any computer. This service is not available on smart phones.


Check live weather information - including fire warnings - on your computer AND smart phone at our Weather page. Just add m.heraldsun.com.au to your smart phone bookmarks and follow the View weather forecast link.


The CFA has a live fire map. Check it out here and add to your bookmarks.


The Herald Sun will keep you informed throughout the heatwave. Check back regularly for weather information, reader photos and fire warnings on your PC and mobile. Reports and alerts will also be posted to our Facebook page and from our official Twitter account.


For general bushfire information



  • Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667 or www.cfa.vic.gov.au


Stay informed



  • ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations or watching Sky News TV

  • Deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment can contact VBIL via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677

  • Road closures: Check www.vicroads.vic.gov.au

  • Tourists: Stay away from listed areas

  • For life or property threatening threatening emergencies: Phone 000




6AM: Heyfield Mobil service station owner Allison Akers said families had been fleeing the area since 6am.


"It is pretty scary, we have had locals come in and say they have lost their homes already," Mrs Akers said.


"A lot of people with their families are heading out, the CFA went through Glenmaggie last night to say 'get out'.


"There are a lot of homes out there, it is really bad."


3AM: Spot fires started in Coongulla, Glenmaggie, Heyfield and Newry at 3am, earlier than experts had predicted.


Residents have been warned to activate their fire plans.


An emergency relief centre has been set up at the Sale Baptist Church.


Total fire bans have been declared in the Northern County, North East, East Gippsland and West and South Gippsland districts.


The raging fire at Donnellys Creek, near Aberfeldy, consumed 1500ha in a matter of hours yesterday.


The blaze forced the emergency evacuation of 61 children at a holiday camp in Licola before the CFA advised the tiny town's population of 21 to evacuate homes last night.


Pakenham was also on high alert late yesterday as more than 50 firefighters battled a series of blazes, now under control, including a major bushfire that threatened homes.


That fire, which began just before 4pm, was out of control as it burned in a southeast direction towards houses that were under threat for more than an hour.


The CFA diverted water trucks from other blazes to protect the properties.


Investigators last night were trying to find the cause of fires that began in the Army Rd and Reynolds Rd area at Pakenham.


CFA operations manager Trevor Owen said authorities believed some of the fires may have been deliberately lit.


The latest fires came as Victoria again endured high temperatures and wind gusts of up to 50km/h yesterday.


The highest temperature was recorded in Hopetoun which reached 45.4C at 4.30pm.


The city hit a top of 40.8C.


Geelong hit 35.4C while Frankston suffered a sweltering 36.7C in the afternoon.



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