On Monday 18th Feb, Gisborne became a refueling base for 6 aircraft that were working on the Donnybrook fire near Craigieburn.
Just before 1:30pm on Monday 18 Feb CFA crews were called out to a fast moving grass & scrub fire on Donnybrook Rd Donnybrook.
Mount St Leonards & Kangaroo Ground fire towers both confirmed thick black smoke showing and building in size. Senior Station Officer Paul Elso from Craigieburn brigade confirmed a grass & scrub fire not yet under control and quickly called for 20 tankers and aircraft support.
The fire continued to burn in a southerly direction and very quickly impacted on traffic on the Hume Freeway. Police closed off the freeway and CFA, MFB and DSE crews began to arrive and protect assets such as factories and homes in the area.
More strike teams arrived and were rapidly deployed as the fire ran along the freeway reserve and headed across long grass towards buildings. A staging area for vehicles was organised by the Gisborne ICC at the Epping Recreational Reserve.
Aircraft returning from the Grampians fire stopped at Gisborne’s Dixon field for a ‘HOT’ refuel before responding to the Donnybrook fire. They continued using Gisborne as a refuel point for the remainder of the day. The 6 aircraft staged over night and returned the next morning.
Gisborne crew members assisted with fire safety coverage whilst the DSE fuel tankers filled up each chopper, also Brigade members provided a BBQ meal and drinks for pilots and support crew.
Photo’s courtesy: FF Joel Wood and Comms Bevan Moody
Just after 4:30pm on Saturday 9 Feb a column of smoke was seen rising around Mt Charlie near Mt Macedon.
Pretty Sally & Mount Hickey Fire Towers confirmed the smoke and stated the fire was building in size. DGO Boodle upgraded the tankers 5 to 10 and aircraft support responded.
Within 30 minutes tanker requirements were upgraded to 20. The fire was in a heavily treed mountain-side of Parks and private land with several farms and homes dotted through the area.
Dozers were called in as ground crews were unable to safely work amongst the trees as branches were dropping regularly. The helitacks were doing a great job from above but were unable to continue into the night for safety reasons.
Overnight, tankers were spread around the outside perimeter of the fire to monitor for hot spots until daylight when the helitaks would come back again.
Gisbourne ICC was setup to co-ordinate logistics and assist with planning. Alerts were sent out to allow residents to prepare and action their fireplans.
Crews worked day and night to try and have the fire fully contained by the end of the week, as the temperature’s are expected to be in the 30’s and the fire risk will increase again.
Firefighters worked extremely hard and achieved this outcome by Tuesday, and the fire was handed back to local control Tuesday night.
Hesket and Romsey Brigades will continue to patrol and monitor the scene through out the week to ensure the area is fully extinguished.
Click the link below to see live footage of the fires impacting on Hotham village.
You may have to wait a few seconds for the cam to span around to the village. Have a look to the right of the village, quite a bit of activity and smoke issuing.
A Total Fire Ban has been declared for tomorrow in the following six districts – Northern Country, North East, North Central, Central, West and South Gippsland and East Gippsland.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said higher temperatures and strong winds are increasing the fire danger right across the state.
“The weather conditions, combined with heavy fuel loads and dry fuels, pose a serious fire risk,” Mr Lapsley said.
On a day of Total Fire Ban, Gisborne Fire Station is fully “manned” by qualified firefighters and operational leaders.
“Every day a TFB is declared, Gisborne have a full compliment of firefighters standing by in station to respond within minutes”, explained Gisborne Comms Officer, Bevan Moody.
“It is crucial to get a truck out the door quickly on a severe or extreme fire danger day, that’s so we can knock down the fire while it’s still small, because it can become very large and fast moving in no time at all” said, Mr Moody
For more information on having a active fire plan, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au
A FIRE at a winery has forced fire fighters to set up a water relay to truck in water at Toolern Vale on Saturday morning.
A spokesman for the Country Fire Authority said fire fighters had used 17 vehicles “and rising” by 10am to extinguish the flames at the winery because there was too little water on site and water was being trucked in.
The fire started at a large shed at the winery on Blackhill Road, causing extensive damage to the structure. Due to large size of the building, two sectors were established, with Sam Strang, Gisborne Captain, acting as the Northern Sector Commander
Fire fighters were using breathing apparatus because of the smoke from the fire, with Gisborne supplying eight crew members, including Breathing Appartus operators, Sector Commanders and Fire Fighters. Gisborne was released from the scene shortly after 12:30.
Other crews in attendance were from Melton, Sunbury, Toolern Vale and Diggers Rest.