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Dec 17, 2014

04:44:40 GMT--Forest / Wild Fire - Australia - Australia



EDIS Number: WF-20141217-46357-AUS

Date / time: 17/12/2014 04:42:32 [UTC]

Event: Forest / Wild Fire

Area: Australia

Country: Australia

State/County: State of Victoria

Location: [north-east regions]

Number of Deads: N/A

Number of Injured: N/A

Number of Infected: N/A

Number of Missing: N/A

Number of Affected: N/A

Number of Evacuated: N/A

Damage level: Moderate



Description:



One person is unaccounted for and residents in Victoria's north-east have been told to take shelter as a bushfire emergency remains in place on Wednesday after hot, gusty winds tore across the state on Tuesday. Sheds and fences have been lost to fires around Creightons Creek, but authorities are still working to determine whether any homes or properties have been destroyed elsewhere. An emergency warning has been put in place for an out-of-control grassfire burning at Boweya and Boweya North, east of Wangaratta. Residents have been told to stay indoors, with the Country Fire Authority saying it is too late to leave. The fire is burning out of control in the Boweya and Killawarra forests and is moving east from Lake Rowan. The eastern edge of this blaze was the most active on Wednesday, with firefighters using bulldozers to build containment lines. Boweya policeman Paul Campbell said he was waiting for news from firefighters on the ground as to whether the blaze had reached his property. Mr Campbell, who was working in Melbourne, received frantic calls from his wife at their rural property from 6.30pm on Tuesday. "She was seeing smoke all around," Mr Campbell said. She estimated fire was 10 kilometres from their home, swept by more than 100km/h winds from its origins at Lake Rowan, about 25 kilometres away. "We made the decision early to pack and go," Mr Campbell said. "We have our house set up in a way that we're not particularly worried and it's more about not putting family in danger. It's better to get out early and be safe than rushing out later on." His wife could get only two of their horses out, leaving two behind on the property, and spent the night with friends in Wangaratta. Up to 80 residents from outlying areas of Wangaratta and Benalla evacuated on Tuesday night as fire threatened their homes.



Between 40 and 50 people sheltered at a relief centre at Barr Reserve in Wangaratta and 30 locals took refuge at a basketball stadium in Benalla. Others stayed with friends and family in town. Officials were still awaiting information about possible damage to farms and homes from the CFA's rapid assessment team. "That will start to filter through, just as yet we're trying to quantify what it is," a CFA spokeswoman said. Meanwhile, Watch and Act alerts remain in place for residents at Ruffy, Creightons Creek, Killawarra and Goorambat, where large grassfires are bearing down on farms. Firefighters managed to stop the spread of a grassfire threatening West Wodonga on Wednesday morning. "The grassfire is now under control," a state control centre officer said. The Watch and Act alert has been downgraded to an Advice message. Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley told ABC News on Wednesday that a winery in the Macedon Ranges was damaged and some homes were believed to have been burnt down. He said no lives had been lost, but one person was unaccounted for. "There is a single person unaccounted for. We would [like to] believe that person is in a safe environment and we hope that to be the case," he told Fairfax Radio 3AW. "We know we have had some impact on agricultural sheds, we just hope we haven't lost houses." Fire 'like a horseshoe around Hayes' stables The Creightons Creek fire threatened the property of prominent racehorse trainer David Hayes on Tuesday afternoon. He told Fairfax Radio 3AW on Wednesday that he and his staff were having their Christmas party when the fire enveloped his Lindsay Park stables "like a horseshoe". "If you can imagine a horseshoe with the big mountains around us, they were ablaze," he said. Lightning strikes sparked more than 300 fires on Monday and Tuesday, which were fanned by hot and gusty winds across the northern part of the state.



The more severe fires were concentrated around the Wangaratta area, about 250 kilometres north of Melbourne. Mr Lapsley said that there would be some reprieve for firefighters on Wednesday, with mild conditions forecast for much of the state. He said crews were racing to get on top of the fires before conditions deteriorated again. "Today the weather drops off a bit, so that's a good thing," he told ABC news. Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Peter Newham said conditions would ease across much of the north-east with light south-westerly winds and temperatures in the mid-20s forecast. "The winds look like they're only going to be about 15km/h, whereas yesterday at times it was probably up about 50 or 60km/h," he said. But conditions are set to worsen again on Thursday, Mr Lapsely said.





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