Victoria Ablaze

Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:40 am

Bushfires in Victoria kill 14 more deaths feared
February 07, 2009 10:05pm

BREAKING NEWS BUSHFIRES have killed at least 14 and many more are feared dead as Victoria reels from the worst fires since Ash Wednesday.

A few moments ago, deputy piolice commissioner Kieran Walsh told a press conference up to 40 could have perished.

The toll includes six dead at Kinglake, four dead at Wandong and three dead at Strathewen and one dead at Clonbinane.

There are unconfirmed reports that the six victims at Kinglake were all in one vehicle.

Anyone concerned about family or friends in affected areas should call the CFA on 1800 240 667.

Do you know more? Contact us at 9292 2963. Send your photos to [email protected]

The toll may rival the 47 killed on Ash Wednesday in 1983.

Premier John Brumby said: ``This is a deeply sad and shocking tragedy.

``This is an incredible and terrible loss. My heart and Iā€™m sure the hearts of all Victorians goes out to the families and to the firefighters and volunteers who continue to battle the fires.ā€™ā€™

Firefights say dozens of homes have been destroyed by bushfires as the state is under siege from nine major blazes.

In Bendigo, there are unconfirmed reports that fires have destroyed 50 houses and a sports stadium.

Among infrastructure decimated, a golf club is gone and a fire truck has been destroyed.

One man is in critical condition after suffering burns to 50 per cent of his body when he tried to move stock in the Coleraine area in the state's west and will soon be flown to The Alfred hospital in Melbourne.

Thousands of firefighters and residents battle major fronts at Horsham, Coleraine, Weerite, Kilmore East, Bunyip, Churchill, Dargo, Murrindindi and Redesdale in all corners of the scorched state.

The 2500 ha fire at Horsham is the largest in the state while another at the Bunyip State Park has reached 2400 ha and one at Kilmore has burned 2000 hectares.

The Churchill fire in Gippsland is bearing down on coastal towns including Yarram, Langsbrough and Manns Beach.

Residents are on high alert near the Bunyip State Park, Yarra Glen, Churchill, Kilmore, Horsham, Weerite, Redesdale, Maiden Gully and Ferntree Gully and Coleraine.

See the map of where fires are burning in Victoria

As the cool change fans fires in new directions across the state, a man is his 40s is in a serious condition after 50 per cent of his body was burned while helping a neighbour fight a fire near Coleraine.

A Hamilton Base Hospital spokesman said it was expected the man would be airlifted to a Melbourne hospital tonight.

The Coleraine blaze is one of nine major bushfires burning across Victoria, fuelled by a 45-plus degree heatwave throughout the day and strong winds.

Three houses have been destroyed by a fire near Wandong, in the Kilmore district. The fire has burned 1400 ha and is heading south towards the community of Hidden Valley.

Three houses have been burned at Horsham in Victoria's west, along with the city's golf club. A firetruck was also destroyed, but the firefighters escaped uninjured.

At least one home was believed to have been lost on the Longwarry Rd, near Longwarry, after the Bunyip State Forest blaze jumped the Princes Highway and rail line, two of the main transport links into Gippsland.

The wind change is threatening to turn a narrow bushfire head into a devastating fire front 20km wide Bunyip Ridge.

The fire jumped control lines overnight, and around lunchtime the fire on the hill near the Tonimbuk township literally exploded to more than 10 times its earlier size.

Such was the concern after it broke control lines that ground attack firefighters were forced back, ordered to retreat by incident commanders because of the extreme danger, before the blaze incinerated everything in its path.

Police, fire and VicRoads officials also set up several roadblocks - including on the Princes Highway near Pakenham - and stopping all non-essential traffic and residents from going anywhere near the ever-expanding fireground.

Julie Venrooy said she had been forced to stay on the Princes Highway south of Tonimbuk by police, unable to return to her home at Shady Creek on the other side of the fire front.

"I've been able to contact my husband once," she said.

"He's had ember attack, that was about an hour ago but I don't know what's happened since."

Farmer Graham Kinross, whose home and farm buildings were just a few hundred metres from the nearest flames, said the choice to stay and defend his property was easy, adding the wind direction had helped.

"It's blowing past here and if the wind keeps going that way, I should be right, but I don't know about my neighbour,'' he said, pointing to a farm less than 1km along an adjoining dirt track.

Two hours later, Mr Kinross said he felt his property had escaped the worst, but the news was not so good for his neighbour.

"He lost all his silage, I think they saved his hay, and they saved his sheds and the house, but everything else is pretty well burnt out,'' Mr Kinross added.

One of two high voltage power transmission lines supplying Melbourne was knocked out at 4.30pm by smoke and ash from a fire at the Bunyip State Forest.

"We have no immediate issues, but if the second line goes down it could affect some customers,'' said Paul Bird, a spokesman for the power wholesaler, National Electricity Market Management Company.

A fire at Churchill, south of Morwell, was "making a run" south-east with fears it would cross the Princes Highway.

Emergency centres have been set up at Warrigul Leisure Centre and Cardinia Cultural centre for people fleeing the Bunyip fires.

Labertouche and Labertouche North near the Bunyip State Park, along with towns near Horsham and Coleraine are on high alert with residents urged to leave their homes or prepare to stay and fight the fires.

"They are going to be experiencing ember attacks and smoke imminently if not already,'' a CFA spokesman said.

The Hume Highway has been closed between Wallan and Broadford due to fears fires in the Kilmore area could jump the fire and spread.

The CFA has also warned residents of Pomborneit North, Scollers Road, Caters Roads Settlement and Swan Marsh.

This fire has crossed the Princes Highway heading east towards Pomborneit North.

Another fire west of Coleraine has jumped the Glenelg Highway and is burning in a easterly direction, posing a threat to the towns of Muntham, Coleraine and Hilgay.

And a third fire is burning west of Horsham along Remlaw Road, heading south.

The communities of Haven, McKenzie Creek and Wonwondah may be directly impacted upon by this fire.

Towns near the Bunyip State Forest fire have been warned they are likely to lose power this afternoon.

Power lines that connect Melbourne and other parts of Victoria are also under threat as the blaze in the Bunyip State Park gathers momentum.

Bunyip State Park has been closed to all vehicles except emergency services as more than 100 firefighters battle the blaze.

Today's horror fire weather has the potential to kill and Victorians should be on alert for arsonists, Premier John Brumby has warned.

Searing temperatures and strong winds are expected to present some of the worst bushfire conditions in state history, like those seen in 1983 when 75 people died in the Ash Wednesday fires.

"It's the sort of day when a fire that gets away won't just damage property, it may well cost lives, as Black Friday and Ash Wednesday have done before," Mr Brumby said.

"So I don't exaggerate when I say we need to be on alert."

The warning comes as it has been revealed the state is struggling to cope with the deaths linked to last week's heatwave.

Funerals and coronial investigations have been thrown into turmoil because forensic investigators cannot keep up with the number of bodies sent to the state's mortuary.

Sources within Victoria's Coronial Services Centre have told the Herald Sun families face waits of more than 10 days for bodies to be returned after autopsies, delaying funerals and adding to their grief.

They said the state's mortuary could cope with about 100 bodies, but there are closer to 130 waiting for autopsies by just 10 pathologists.

State Coroner judge Jennifer Coate yesterday refused to disclose the extent of the backlog, or the number of deaths. But she admitted the service was forced to send bodies to funeral parlours and hospitals for storage.

"We have had an unprecedented demand on our services, all of our facilities, including the mortuary, in the wake of the extreme heat," Judge Coate said.

After deliberately lit bushfires destroyed 30 homes last week, authorities have urged all Victorians to be on alert.

Emergency services urged people to avoid travelling to fire-prone areas.

These include coastal strips such as the Mornington Peninsula, Great Ocean Rd and the Otways; mountain areas such as the High Country, Dandenongs and Yarra Ranges; and forested areas such as Macedon Ranges.

In Melbourne, a grassfire has forced the closure of East Link between the Dandenong bypass and Cheltenham Road.

V/Line was forced to shut down three of its five lines - Gippsland, Seymour and Warrnambool -because of fires at 1.30pm.

The worst affected train line was Gippsland where one train was stopped at Pakenham and another at Warragul.

V/Line spokesman Daniel Maloney said a few hundred travellers were stranded because police road blocks on the Princes Hwy meant buses could not be sent.

He said V/Line feared there would be infrastructure damage on the Gippsland line which could knock out services for days.

A large fire between Wandong and Kilmore had closed the Seymour line and a grassfire at Colac had closed the Warrnambool line, but buses were being sent to move passengers, he said.

He said sleepers had been burnt between Colac and Camperdown which would affect the Warrnambool line until at least tomorrow (Sunday).

The Ballarat and Bendigo lines were not affected.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:41 am
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:42 am
Ballarat is in no danger. We here however are not to far out of the firing line
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:43 am
I feel for you guys.

Hope it gets better soon..
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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:45 am
Thanks DadPad...

just thinking bout you guys - all of you Down Under - so very sorry this is happening to y'all.

Take very good care x
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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:46 am
Merci, francis we have the best firefighting organisation in the world. The weather here in my district will ease overnight (i hope).
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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:47 am
More photo gallaries here:


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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:49 am

Melbourne's power under threat as fires rage

February 07, 2009 09:29pm

POWER to Melbourne is under threat tonight as bushfires raged out of control near the Loy Yang power station in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria's east.

Around 100,000 customers of Victoria's electricity suppliers lost power during the hottest day in Victoria since records started in 1855.

Bushfires, 100km/h per hour winds and falling branches were blamed by suppliers for the outages.

Around 20,000 Horsham residents, who faced ferocious fires today, lost power and will be without electricity at least tomorrow when it is hoped that Citypower/Powercor technicians will be able to access the area.

Another 10,000 customers around Bendigo and Werribee also lost power.

SP AusNet's distribution network, which covers eastern Victoria and Melbourne's east, lost power to 2000 homes including Greensborough, Lilydale, and Narre Warren.

SP Ausnet spokeswoman Louisa Graham said fire caused widespread outages in the Bunyip area including Drouin and in the Kilmore, Seymour, Alexandra and Yea areas.

She said more than 15,000 homes had been impacted by the Kilmore fire.

"Safety is our number one priority, and due to the current fire conditions, it is not safe for crews to enter the fire ground to restore power to these areas tonight,'' she said.

About 7000 Jemena/Alinta customers in Melbourne's northwestern suburbs were without power on Saturday night, mostly due to heat-related issues such as transformers blowing up due to the heat.

The Jemena spokesman said linesmen will be working through the night to try to restore power.
The cool change which came through late on Saturday across the state saw the temperature plunge easing the high demand for electricity.

Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said the demand for electricity dropped by 1000 megawatts in one hour.

"That was a great relief,'' Mr Batchelor said.

Three of the power lines running from Loy Yang to Melbourne carrying a total of 1500 kilo volts of power have gone down due to the fires.

A spokeswoman for the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) which manages and operates the national electricity market, said demand has fallen off as the hot weather subsided.

"As long as we don't experience any further loss of transmission lines or general failures, we would be able to meet overnight demand,'' she said.

0 Replies
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:59 am
Peter Mitchell in Kinglake, north of Melbourne, tells ABC Local 702 the entire town is engulfed in flames.

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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 06:05 am
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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 06:09 am
Offers of help and temporary housing for anyone needing to evacuate can be found here:


Weather warnings;


Weather map with prevailing wind directions for the area:

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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 06:17 am
Live news stream from ABC Radio in Melbourne in Windows and Real Player format.
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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 06:23 am
Izzie I have phoned A2K member DDXX who lives near Bacchus Marsh in Victoria and she and her family are ok. Had a very scary day but are fine.
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Merry Andrew
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 06:56 am
My thoughts and prayers are with all my Australian friends. (And a couple of close relatives.)
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Frank Apisa
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 08:20 am
Horrible situation for you folks.

My thoughts are with you all.

Good luck riding this thing out.
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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 09:17 am
I hope the Observatory located in the boonies of Melbourne is safe. I had a friend who was an astronomer and worked there.

Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 10:12 am
What's ironic is that farther north, in Queensland there are serious floods

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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 10:14 am
I've been following this on local news. Horrible.
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Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 10:53 am
These pictures are all to familiar to us Californians. My heart goes out
to all Australians suffering in this. Are all a2k Aussies accounted for?
Is msolga all right?
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 02:31 pm
msolga is in the middle of Melbourne

I am in another state

Margo is in the middle of a huge city

It is possible msolga is blacked out though

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