East Gippsland fires: Residents and holiday-makers told to leave ahead of warm weather


Residents and holiday-makers in East Gippsland have been urged to leave as fire authorities brace for “very dangerous” conditions on Friday.

District Chief Fire Officer Beth Roberts said three-quarters of East Gippsland had been scorched by bushfires and there were still large patches of unburnt land that could ignite tomorrow.

“The risk is real, especially on spike days like tomorrow where there will be a significant increase in temperature and wind,” she said.

“Conditions like these mean fires can run into the community so we cannot understate the impact.

“Three quarters of East Gippsland has been scorched by fires and within that are large patches of unburnt country which means communities already impacted could be re-impacted.”

Ms Roberts said it was time for people to re-enact their fire plan and leave the area today or tonight and avoid returning until the conditions improve.

Temperatures in the region are expected to soar above 40C with strong north to north westerly winds before a strong south-westerly wind change in the afternoon.

Incident controller Brett Mitchell said extra resources were on their way to East Gippsland in preparation for tomorrow’s heightened bushfire threat.

The town of Omeo will “come under threat”, with fires already travelling in the area, he said.

Fire conditions will increase from 6am, with five strike teams deployed to defend the town.

Currently there are four major bushfires “concerning” firefighters in the area.

Mr Mitchell said many residents had already left Omeo but that some have stayed because “they think they can defend their properties”.

“There will be five strike teams in Omeo tomorrow so they should be able to defend critical infrastructure in that community,” he said.

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media_cameraThe township of Nowa Nowa is on high alert for what tomorrow could bring. Picture: Alex Coppel.
Bernie and Joy Rossi, with their horse Dusty. Bernie needs a float for Dusty in order to evacuate him. Picture: Alex Coppel.pacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/East-Gippsland-fires-Residents-and-holiday-makers-told-to-leave-ahead.jpeg”/>
media_cameraBernie and Joy Rossi, with their horse Dusty. Bernie needs a float for Dusty in order to evacuate him. Picture: Alex Coppel.

There is a 1200km perimeter around the fires currently ravaging East Gippsland.

Mr Mitchell said there are “a number of weak points” around the perimeter that could cause trouble tomorrow.

“The last few days we haven’t had good intelligence from the air because it has been too smoky but from gathering strong intelligence today, we have seen there is active fire in the landscape and the fire could get active anywhere in that perimeter,” he said.

Buchan South was noted as being under increased bushfire risk on Friday.

Mr Mitchell said rainfall in areas such as Clifton Creek, Sarsfield and Nowa Nowa had reduced the fire risk “a little bit” but that the moisture will likely have dried in today’s strong easterly winds.

He warned these areas have the “potential to reignite”.

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Mr Mitchell added there was a “real possibility” the NSW fires would link with the blaze in Corryong tomorrow.

“It’s a real possibility, particularly with those north westerly winds and the elevation some of those fires could link up tomorrow afternoon,” he said. [email protected]

Originally published as Fire threat looms again over East Gippsland



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