Festival canned as alpine fire danger spreads
The fire in the state’s alpine region – which has been burning for weeks – is spreading and has forced the cancellation of a local festival.
The Harrietville blaze, near Mt Hotham, is 22,315 hectares in size and growing. Back-burning is expected to continue and locals are warned to remain vigilant.
A watch-and-act warning is in place, the level below an emergency warning. An emergency warning signifies immediate danger and an urgency to decide whether to stay and defend a property or leave.
A screen grab from the Cool Summer Festival website.
The fire has forced the cancellation of the Cool Summer Festival, scheduled for the weekend after next.
The Festival – featuring 21 bands including the four-sister band Stonefield, triple J Unearthed favourite Loon Lake and Melbourne duo Dune – announced the cancellation on Monday with ‘‘heavy hearts’’.
The organisers said a contigency plan to relocate the festival off the mountain ‘‘would not be possible due to the number of legal requirements and safety measures’’.
They also pointed to advice from the Department of Sustainability and Environment, which recommended the cancellation of all activities around Mt Hotham.
‘‘We know you will all be terribly disappointed – thanks for your support and we will be sure to contact you for the 2014 line-up.’’
*Another large bushfire started burning at Sunday night at Kerrie in the Macedon Ranges, north-west of Melbourne.
The large, slow-moving bushfire stayed within control lines, but a smaller spot fire had to be fought overnight. A watch-and-act message was in place for Kerrie residents.
Emergency service officers are also frustrated after finding 37 people with illegal campfires at the Southern 80 water-ski races on the Murray River at Echuca-Moama in the state’s northwest on the weekend.
Nineteen people had allegedly lit a campfire on a total fire ban day and will now face court and penalties including large fines and possible jail.
Loddon Mallee regional fire controller Rob Price said the total fire ban had been broadcast at the event.
‘‘Total fire bans are declared on days where fires are likely to spread rapidly and be difficult to control,’’ he said in a statement.
‘‘It doesn’t take much for a fire to take hold and have potentially devastating consequences.’’
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley is warning that with no rain forecast and the state very dry, fire risks remain high, with several breaking out in recent days across the state.
‘‘(Those fires) tell us we don’t need to see 45-degree temperatures and winds howling down from the northwest to have fires that really do threaten communities and cause concern, so I think that’s continuing for the next few weeks,’’ Mr Lapsley said in a video release.
Fire crews are working to contain a bushfire in the Mount Macedon area northwest of Melbourne and the Aberfeldy bushfire in Gippsland.
Firefighters are also preparing for potential dry lightning strikes later in the week.
Temperatures are forecast to rise into the low- to mid-30s towards the end of the week, with a high fire danger in place for most of the state in the CFA’s four-day forecast to Thursday.