Light­ning sparks fire

Aerial sup­port not needed as ground crews con­tain El­do­rado blaze

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News - BY STEVE KELLY [email protected] ne­me­

AERIAL water bomb­ing sup­port was turned back by CFA af­ter eight fire­fight­ing units man­aged to con­tain a fire at El­do­rado on Satur­day.

The grass fire, be­lieved to have been ig­nited by light­ning, was called in at noon on Satur­day and even­tu­ally burnt five to 10 hectares of land.

Wan­garatta District 23 fire of­fi­cer Trevor Ebbels said there was hardly any wind on Satur­day and it would have been driven by fuel and to- pog­ra­phy - up slope.

“Fire­fight­ers must have got it un­der con­trol quicker than they thought they would so the air­craft was turned back,” he said.

Sev­eral air­craft are on standby through­out the re­gion over the fire dan­ger pe­riod which is now ac­tive.

These in­clude a light he­li­copter at Be­nalla, a medium he­li­copter at Ovens DELWP (1800 litres), a heavy he­li­copter at Mans­field (8000 litres), a six wing bomber at Mans­field (3000 litres), one at each of Man­ga­lore and Shep­par­ton, and two fixed wings at Be­nam­bra, which have a top speed of 260kph.

Emer­gency Man­age­ment Com­mis­sioner An­drew Crisp said the aerial fire­fight­ing fleet this year is made up of 49 craft.

He said each year they have proven to be cru­cial in stop­ping the spread of fire, by pro­vid­ing im­me­di­ate re­sponse in the early stages, sup­port­ing fire­fight­ers on the ground.

Vic­to­ria will con­tinue to op­er­ate fire­fight­ing air­craft as im­me­di­ate re­sponse or pre-de­ter­mined dis­patch in lo­ca­tions across the state.

“The ca­pac­ity for im­me­di­ate re­sponse across Vic­to­ria is ex­tremely suc­cess­ful in min­imis­ing the im­pacts of bush and grass fires on com­mu­ni­ties,” Mr Crisp said.

“Im­me­di­ate re­sponse us­ing air­craft in early stages of a fire is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to help stop the spread of fire and help to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe.”

Mr Crisp said that air­craft would come on­line pro­gres­sively as fire risk in­creases.

Vic­to­ria can also ac­cess around 100 ad­di­tional air­craft as re­quired, and can also share aerial re­sources from other states if needed.

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