FODDER relief is being co-ordinated for south-west Victorian farmers, saleyards are offering to hold affected stock and Telstra announced an assistance package after authorities declared four fires across more than 15,000 hectares as contained.
The area affected in the fires included 3467 hectares around Gazette and Hawkesdale, 4064 hectares near Garvoc, 6770 hectares in the Terang fire and 380 hectares in the Camperdown-Gnotuk fire.
There was no reported loss of human life in the fires, although there have significant sheep and cattle losses, along with 15 homes and 42 sheds, hay and silage reserves and a bluegum plantation.
Firefighters are now mopping across the fire areas, monitoring the situation and putting out spot fires. There is currently no threat to communities, but residents in the areas have been advised to continue to stay informed and monitor conditions.
The South-West Victorian Livestock Exchange at Warrnambool has also offered free livestock holding for anyone impacted by the region’s fires. In a Facebook post, SWVLE manager Paul White said livestock owners can contact him on 0417 055 014.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley praised affected communities for their resilience and responsive behaviour to advice and warnings. There have been no serious injuries and no missing persons reported.
Fire crews attended more than 160 grass and bushfires since 10am Saturday and continued to work through Saturday and Sunday night to contain the fires. The SES responded to more than 1000 requests for assistance since 10am Saturday.
VFF launches fodder distribution
VFF president David Jochinke said anyone with good quality fodder to donate should contact the VFF on 1300 882 833 to register.
“We also want to hear from farmers who need fodder so we can coordinate immediate distribution.”
The VFF is encouraging farmers affected by the fires to contact the VFF for support, donations and assistant – either by phone on 1300 882 833 or by referring to www.vff.org.au/support.
The VFF has an agreement with the Victorian Government to facilitate the fodder relief. This includes reimbursement of freight costs for transport of donated fodder.
Agriculture Victoria is advising farmers in the case of injured livestock to euthanise and dispose if appropriate and to record images and information for insurance purposes. There is no need to wait for the department or a vet to authorise, the VFF said.
Agriculture Victoria animal health staff will enter fire-affected areas as soon as it is safe to do so. For further advice on livestock impacted by fire, farmers can ring (03) 5336 6721.
The Rural Financial Counselling Service is available for immediate assistance and can be contacted on 1300 735 578 (24 hour hotline). Relief centres remain open at Terang and Cobden.
Mr Jochinke thanked the CFA and all the people in the surrounding regions for their immediate support and donations.
“It is times like this that Australia’s strong communities come together”.
Further information about the support available to fire affected farmers can be found at www.vff.org.au/support.
140 firefighters mop up
Colac Incident Control Centre incident controller, Les Vearing, said crews from CFA and Forest Fire Management Victoria had done a great job in the past 24 hours.
“It has been a busy few days for firefighters who have been working day and night to keep communities safe,” he said.
“To declare the fire as contained last night (Monday) is a fantastic result.
“Over 140 firefighters will continue blacking out on the fireground today and checking for any hot spots.”
Mr Vearing said the community will continue to see smoke for some time; however, this is not related to an increase in fire activity.
“We have been working closely with the EPA on smoke management planning and they have deployed air monitoring systems so we can keep an eye on conditions.
“Power has now been restored to hundreds of properties overnight.
“Powercor have reported this morning there are now only two properties remaining without power. “
A community meeting is planned for Wednesday March 21 2018 at 1pm at the Cobden Civic Hall and we encourage everyone to come along for an update on our key priorities.
“We will have all relevant agencies in attendance to make sure people are given a full picture on what is happening.
“Support services will also be available on site.”
Telstra assistance for south-west Vic customers
Telstra announced an assistance package for its residential and small business customers who have lost services due to bushfires in Camperdown, Cobden, Timboon and Terang.
Telstra area general manager Steve Tinker said the bushfire is affecting a number of Telstra services, with the assistance package designed to provide customers with access to free and interim services during the recovery period.
“The assistance package is designed to provide customers with a range of interim services in addition to providing the wider community with free calls and free Telstra Air Wi-Fi through our payphones in the area.
“Our teams are also working to restore impacted services as quickly as possible. In some cases, adverse conditions are preventing us from reaching some areas but we will attend as soon as it’s safe to do so.” he said.
Customer who have had to evacuate their home or have lost their home are encouraged to call Telstra on 132 203 (then enter their full home phone including area code when prompted) to report a fault and register for the assistance package if they have had to evacuate their home or have lost their home.
Click here for full details of the Telstra assistance.
Maps illustrate dimension of fires
The mapping team at the CFA State Control Centre put together these three images showing the enormous scale of some of the fires that burned across south west Victoria.
The Cobden fire of 6770 hectares would stretch from Kew to Keysborough.
The Hawkesdale fire of 3467 hectares would stretch from Moorabbin to Skye.
The Garvoc fire of 4064 hectares would stretch from Essendon Airport through the CBD to Prahran.