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No escape as fire set to hit town in Victoria

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Jared Lynch, Nino Bucci, Adrian Lowe, Tom Arup

Every measure possible ... a water bombing helicopter takes water from a swimming pool.

Every measure possible ... a water bombing helicopter takes water from a swimming pool. Photo: Peter Stoop

A FEROCIOUS, fast-moving bushfire was expected to hit a small town in Victoria's east where 10 people were sheltering with no escape. The latest threat comes after a man died at Seaton in Gippsland.

The Fire Services Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, said the fire, which was more than 40,000 hectares in size, was expected to hit Licola, about 254 kilometres east of Melbourne, late on Friday.

He said the group of residents had chosen to stay in the township and were being assisted by about 30 firefighters, who had driven to the area on Friday morning. ''Those residents have indicated that with the CFA [Country Fire Authority] resources that are in there with them that they feel some comfort,'' Mr Lapsley said.

''They are locals, they do know the local conditions … it's not foreign to them to see fire.''

Mr Lapsley said there was no escape for the residents, with Licola having its only access road cut off by the fire. He said there was a dirt track that headed north towards Mount Hotham, but that was not an option for escape.

''It's too late to move now and to move north would be too difficult with the type of road and terrain it would be,'' Mr Lapsley said. ''It's a sensible decision for those 10 to stay at Licola and stay with the CFA trucks.''

He expected the fire to burn for about two weeks as it charged further into deep bushland.

''The fire is looking to be a campaign fire, there is no doubt about that.

''We are moving into some remote and in particular deep-seated bush environments, which are difficult for anyone to get into.''

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