Firefighters contain the frie at Framlingham yesterday – but there are concerns about strong winds today.FIRE crews will continue to monitor fires at Framlingham and Branxholme as the south-west prepares for a day of total fire ban today.
Nanjing Night Net

The ban has been declared for the region because of strong north-westerly winds predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology, despite a chance of late rain and a top temperature of only 26 degrees.

Three water bombing helicopters were used yesterday to contain a fire on the steep banks of the Hopkins River at Framlingham.

Warrnambool Fire Brigade incident controller Henry Barton said about 90 firefighters battled to bring a 20-hectare blaze off Framlingham’s Kirrae Avenue under control yesterday morning.

He said there was much work to be done with the fire ground expected to be difficult to contain in hazardous weather conditions.

Mr Barton said six tankers would patrol the area last night and be bolstered by more crews today.

The fire is believed to have reignited from a smaller fire which burnt tyres and cars at Kirrae Avenue a couple of days ago.

Yesterday’s blaze was reported to emergency services about 1 am and burnt about 20 hectares of mostly scrub and bush before being contained about 7am.

Mr Barton said the fire burnt down steep banks of the Hopkins River, some grassland and large round hay bales.

“It was difficult to contain and control down the river banks,” he said.

“As of about 7am the boys were able to contain the fire. We have 17 Country Fire Authority appliances in attendance, a Department of Sustainability and Environment bulldozer and slip-on units.”

Mr Barton said aircraft flew over the fire ground yesterday morning and a Sikorsky helicopter water bombed the area in an effort to fully extinguish the blaze and ensure that every effort was made to contained the fire.

Three helicopters involved in fighting a fire at Branxholme on Tuesday water-bombed the Framlingham fire ground yesterday morning.

“In the early hours we had about 70 firefighters out there and that’s now grown to about 90. There’s a lot of blacking out work that need to be done to contain it,” Mr Barton said.

“We were expecting north and north north-west winds of 35 km/h to 50 km/h about 1pm yesterday afternoon so we put a lot of work into the southern flank.”

Mr Barton said CFA and Gunns plantation crews had worked hard yesterday to keep the Branxholme fire within the containment lines.

He said the fire broke out about 3.30pm on Tuesday on the Murndal-Branxholme Rd and burnt approximately 137 ha of grassland and bluegum plantations.

“Our air observations over the top have shown it’s all quiet,” he said.

“There will be more crews there tomorrow given its a total fire ban.”

Mr Barton said the Country Fire Authority had issued advisories for the Framlingham Cudgee, Panmure Wangoom areas regarding smoke which was visible from nearby communities and roads.

Community meetings were held 11am at the Framlingham community centre and 12.30pm at the Cudgee fire station.

“We just wanted to inform the community of the work we are doing, what had been done and what planned to do so everyone was aware,” Mr Barton said.

The cause of yesterday’s fire is not suspicious, in stark contrast to a fire which started at Framlingham in January 10, 2007, which is believed to have been deliberately lit.

That fire was lit on a day of total fire ban and the weather conditions on the day were in-excess of 35 degrees with a strong northerly wind blowing.

The origin of the fire was located beside Framlingham Road, about one kilometre east of the Hopkins Highway, on a section of road that covers the most northern point of the Framlingham forest.

The fire eventually burned out more than 50 per cent of the forest, but fortunately no house were destroyed.

Police said the fire caused widespread damage to farm fencing and burned as far south as Fary’s Road.

Spot fires caused by flying embers were reported as far south as Panmure and across the Princes Highway.

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