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Media Releases

Coordinated crews respond to worst fire conditions of the season

19 March 2018

Firefighters continue to respond to fires across the state. Hot and strong winds over the weekend presented the worst fire conditions for the season. 

The most significant fires continue in Victoria’s south west at Gazette (south of Hamilton), Garvoc, Terang and Gnotuk (Camperdown).

Emergency services across the state including Country Fire Authority (CFA), State Emergency Services (SES), Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFM VIC), Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria are working together to respond to communities in need.

There has been an impact on houses, businesses and farms with many farmers suffering serious impacts from the fires, including a substantial loss to livestock and farm sheds and machinery. This is expected to have lasting financial and emotional impacts.   

Support was offered from people from surrounding communities who travelled to affected areas to offer a hand. Emergency relief centres opened over the weekend in Colac, Warrnambool, Port Campbell, Camperdown, Cobden, Terang and Hamilton to provide refuge to local community members.

The relief centres were well attended on Saturday night and Sunday with more than 800 people seeking support, guidance and help. The relief agencies Australian Red Cross, Victorian Council of Churches, Salvation Army, the health services and local council has done a great job.

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. Specialist teams will continue to assess losses over the coming days.  

Crews have attended more than 160 grass and bushfires since 10 am Saturday and continued to work through Saturday and Sunday night to contain the fires.  The SES responded to more than 1,000 requests for assistance since 10 am Saturday.

Emergency management agencies including incident control centres prepared ahead of the weather conditions. Sixty-one aircraft where strategically placed around the state to quickly respond to emergencies. A Total Fire Ban was declared over the weekend due to highly volatile weather, including high winds, warm temperatures and very dry conditions. Victoria was well prepared to respond to all incidents from fire through to wind damage.

The community is being kept up to date on the response and the transition to relief and recovery arrangements including access to personal hardship payments and other support available to them.

Anyone who has been affected by the bushfires and is suffering personal hardship and distress should call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 to find out about the assistance available.

For information on the fires visit the VicEmergency website.