Strong winds forecast for this weekend have firefighters on high alert, as they continue to work to contain a 2179-hectare fire at Dangongadale, two kilometres east of Rose River.
The fire is currently being investigated by Victoria Police and the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) after being ignited from multiple points along the Dandongadale River flats on Friday, 15 March.
Incident Controller, Andy Miller, said: “It’s extremely frustrating to have critical resources tied up at a fire that’s believed to have been deliberately lit and it reduces our capacity to respond to other bushfires.”
“Yesterday, we had a further two fires start in the area from lightning strikes, which have since been contained.”
“Each day we have had 12 aircraft, multiple heavy plant and machinery, including dozers and excavators and over 150 firefighters from Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic), CFA and Hancock Victorian Plantations working around the clock to contain the fire.”
“The fire is burning within control lines in State Forest and private property and is located in steep terrain, making it difficult for ground crews to access.”
“Favourable weather conditions over the past 48 hours have helped crews progress with burning out operations, to further consolidate control lines. This strategy has increased the size of the fire and we expect it to reach 2800-hectares by the weekend.”
“Specialised aircraft with thermal imaging detection is also being used to identify hot spots and active fire edges.”
“Strong winds and limited rainfall are forecast this weekend, so crews are preparing fall-back lines.”
“Many areas of State Forest and Alpine National Park in the Upper King and Buffalo River Valleys have been closed to the public, so I’d like to encourage people to check what’s closed before heading out,” Mr Miller said.
Police are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area last Friday and has video or dash camera footage to contact Wangaratta Police Station on (03) 5723 0888 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
For the most up to date incident information visit: www.emergency.vic.gov.au
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