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Wind change sends south-west fire towards homes

Monday January 7, 2013 - 21:02 EDT
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The fire near Portland has burned about 4,000 hectares of national park and a pine plantation. - ABC

Firefighters have been sent to defend homes in Victoria's south-west as a wind change sends a large blaze towards farming communities.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) has issued an emergency warning for the hamlet of Drik Drik, which is in the path of the fire that is burning in remote bushland west of Portland.

The CFA is warning the fire could put lives and property at risk, and people should follow their bushfire survival plans.

Up to 10 homes are under threat.

Mumbannar residents are also being urged to protect their properties.

About 470 firefighters are trying to control the blaze, which has burned through more than 5,500 hectares in the Lower Glenelg National Park and a pine plantation since last Friday.

Eight helicopters and three planes are water-bombing the area.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley says authorities are worried about the fire spreading and threatening more homes after a forecast wind change on Tuesday.

"It will be a fire that will be pushed with winds, and we believe that it's got the potential to move significant distance tomorrow, potentially block the Princes Highway and have further impacts on the rural community around Drik Drik and Dartmoor," he said.

Residents have been briefed about the fire at a community meeting in Dartmoor, and there is another meeting in Nelson tonight.

Deputy incident controller Andy Cusack says the threat will grow as the winds pick up.

"If the fire keeps moving in the way that's predicted and the weather [bureau] maintains its predictions...then yes there will certainly be houses affected."

A number of roads and campsites are closed.

Mr Cusack says he is worried about people ignoring roadblocks in area.

"We're getting concerned about people going past road closed signs and putting themselves at risk, we're concerned about people on the river that we may not able to contact, canoeists and so forth," he said.

"We'd like the people to keep well out of the area. It is quite dangerous."

Firefighters will also be on stand-by in the state's north-east, where they are worried about lightning strikes sparking fires.

Mr Lapsley says there is a severe fire danger rating and a total fire ban in place for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country and North-East districts on Tuesday.

"It's going to be a severe day, and coupled with the weather that's in New South Wales, we'll see the potential for fires to start, start early in the day, and without much time at all they become uncontrolled fires," he said.

"Community members need to be very vigilant in the northern part of Victoria tomorrow and we've certainly got all of our crews and aircraft on the highest of alert."


© ABC 2013

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