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Mt Hotham Resort - Fire Update 7pm

Mt Hotham Resort - Fire Update 7pm

Friday 8thth February 2013 – 7pm


Harrietville – Alpine Fire Statistics:

                                       North              South

Fire Area:                      10210 ha         565 ha 

Fire Perimeter:              89 km              11 km

Control Lines built:       208 km            10 km

Line to be built:             10 km              50 km

Potential Spread:           High                High



Resort Threat: High – currently NO active fires within Resort boundaries.

Conditions:       Currently; Clear.  Temperature: 20’c (expected max. of 23’c

Humidity: 33% Wind: Due NNW at 30 km/h with gusts to 50 km/h.

Road Status:    Both Approaches Closed – Emergency Vehicle Access Only.


Current Status:

The ‘Harrietville – Alpine Fires’ remains classified as ‘going’, no asset losses have been reported to date.

The wind direction has remained ‘NNW’ all day and with a wind speed of 30 kmh with gusts up to 50 kmh.  Humidity is low at 33%. 

Harrietville - Alpine South’ fire is firmly established in the ‘Dargo’ and has increased in size significantly during the course of the day.  The fire is visually prominent SW of the village, along ‘Morning Star Spur’ and below ‘St Bernard’ and is moving up toward Baldy Creek to the SW of the resort centre.   This fire activity is of concern - heavy aerial water bombing has been undertaken all day so as to prevent the fire moving into Baldy Hollow (immediately below the Village Centre and Summit).    One Erickson Skycrane and two bucket equipped heavy lift helicopters with have been refilling from the snowmaking dam at Loch every 7 minutes all day.  Dam capacity has been maintained.  CFA/DSE expect the ‘Alpine South Fire’ to make further SSE runs in the untracked forest of the ‘Dargo’ until at least late Sat/early Sunday given the predicted weather conditions.

The control strategies for this part of the fires are limited due the dense nature and ruggedness of the terrain.  The ‘Swift’s Creek’ ICC has indicated an ‘indirect attack/asset protection’ strategy aimed at keeping the main fire east of the ‘Dargo High Plains’ Road.

The ‘Harrietville - Alpine North’ fire continues to move through high elevation forest that was burnt in 2003 and 2006.  The fire has now burnt down to the ‘Diamantina River’ along a 500m stretch - which proposes a potential threat to the Resort Water Catchment.  Resort Management staff have observed smoke continuing to rise from the ‘Diamantina Area’, which indicates that the fire is still active, despite aerial suppression. CFA/DSE have reported that the hot edge on the Diamantina River continues to hold west of the river, but many hot spots remain, right down to the river bank. Felled timber on the helipad has delayed insertion of crews this morning, but crews are now working after the pad was aerial bombed. Options for providing water-pumping capability for ground crews to black out this edge are being explored

An aerial infrared scan (FLIR flight) this morning showed going fire continuing to back down in a westerly direction into the West Ovens and the upper part of the East Buckland catchments. The fire is also continuing to burn slowly down steep slopes into the headwaters of the Dargo catchment. It has reached the upper reaches of the Dargo River in some places and has uphill runs available to it once it crosses. The fire has burnt in a broad front southward along both sides of the Dargo High Plains Road. A further aerial FLIR scan will be flown this afternoon if time and conditions permit.

Note:  A ‘Watch & Act’ message for Hotham and Dinner plain remains in place and ‘Advice messages’ for Harrietville, Dargo, Cobungra, Omeo, Swifts Creek and Ensay.

Today, Saturday and Sunday are classified ‘high-risk’.


 Defense Strategies:

 MHRMB staff have successfully re-established the 2003 fire break behind the Davenport Area using heavy machinery.   

 Unfortunately ‘Foschek’ fire retardant line , planned for below Hotham village as a Village defensive measure, could be started today due to adverse wind conditions. This work is now scheduled for tomorrow, weather permitting.

 CFA/DSE are on call as required for asset protection at Mt Hotham and the MHARMB’s fire fighting assets are now deployed as part of the overall CFA resource allocation strategy within the resort.

 The Hotham Village water tanks remain near full at 95% capacity and the Snowmaking Dam is currently around 97% capacity.  To bolster Mt Hotham water capacity, the CFA have located two large articulated water tankers which are transferring water from the Dinner Plain Aquifer Supply to the Hotham Snowmaking Dam to maintain full capacity.  The CFA have installed three water refilling ‘pools’ for water bombing  - two in the Village Car-park and one in Davenport Subdivision to support the water bombing activities.

 The MHRMB staff continues to operate Resort patrols 24/7, monitoring for possible ember attacks and spot-overs. 

 Note: From a control and planning perspective, due the fire breaching the ‘Great Alpine Road’ from ‘Mt St Bernard’ to ‘Mt Blowhard’, incident control for this section has transferred to the Gippsland IMT (Incident Management Team).  Consequently, the fire previously referred to as the ‘Harrietville – Feathertop Fire,’ has been split into two fire sectors – the ‘Harrietville – Alpine North Fire’ (the Alpine North ICC/IMT is located at Ovens) and ‘Harrietville – Alpine South Fire’ (the Alpine South ICC/IMT is located at Swifts Creek).


 Village Access:

 Both roads to the Hotham Village are closed for the foreseeable future under direction of the ICC.  The GAR to Harrietville Road is designated as ‘Class A’ closure – strictly no access.  The GAR from Dinner Plain – Hotham Heights is designated ‘Class A’ closure.  Both approaches are for Emergency Fire Services use only. 

 The Great Alpine Road is likely to remain closed for up to several weeks, due to the high risk of burnt 2003-fire-killed Alpine Ash above the road falling down onto the road.  Plans for treatment of this risk are beginning to be developed.


 Further information can be obtained by emailing


 Andrew Lean

Media Liaison – MHARMB

08 February 2013