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THE DUST SETTLES

Time to take a breath as Budj Bim fire looks to be contained

AS of Monday morning, the Budj Bim National Park fire was in the process of being contained after residents in Bessiebelle and surrounds were ordered to evacuate on Friday.

The welcoming news comes as 31 active blazes still are burn across the state.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Heywood deputy incident controller, Bernie Fradd told The Spectator that the blaze has maintained in size of 6500 hectares and has burned two thirds of the park.

“We hope to get the Budj Bim fires contained by (Monday) or tomorrow,” he said.

“Budj Bim National Park is in the process of being contained, crews will be working in the park for quite some time.

“We will be doing wildlife audits to see how the koala populations fared along with other wildlife and will be undertaking hazard reassessments.

“We are working on a plan to rehabilitate the control lines that have been built up over the private properties, and within the national park and walking tracks.”

With the fire close to containment, Mr Fradd said the priority will shift to re-accessing wildlife numbers and removing all hazardous trees off paths.

“Once we get all the hazards trees, we can re-access the damage,” he said

“The fire is looking really good, but our priority will be getting people in first and have look on the damage, because it’s hard to see when it is not contained.”

Mr Fradd said that fire will still be visible from surrounding towns such as Bessiebelle for weeks after the blaze is contained.

“People in the Bessiebelle and Macarthur area will see smoke coming up from the Budj Bim area for the next week or even more,” he said.

“We just ask people to be aware and if they see fire in the park, they should let the authorities know.

“Smoke is definitely to be expected.”

“Unfortunately, the Budj Bim National Park is expected to be closed for the foreseeable future.”

Reflecting on a busy week, Broadwater Fire Brigade captain and one of the responders in charge, Hugh McFarlane, took to Facebook to thank all those who had lent a hand.

 “It’s nice to sit back and look at what has been done,” he said.

“CFA and DELWP have work hard to manage this fire working side by side and many new friendships have been made.

“Thanks to all the strike teams that have been deployed here and all the support groups.

“Sometimes you think you have not done much, but it’s the little bit of work you do that can make a big difference.

“Thanks to all the Macarthur group CFA for all your time on the trucks and pumps and the behind the scenes thing that sometimes get overlooked.”

Last week, resultant smoke impacted the visibility in Hamilton that saw air quality drop, promoting an emergency warning advice warning issued to Greater Hamilton residents.

To download the VicEmergency App, go to emergency.vic.gov.au, or call the VicEmergency Hotline via 1800 226 226 to stay informed about warnings and advice.

People who are hard of hearing, or who have a speech/communication impairment can contact VicEmergency Hotline via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 67.

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