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Mt Hotham Resort Fires Update - 6pm

Mt Hotham Resort Fires Update - 6pm

Saturday 9thth February 2013 – 6pm


Harrietville – Alpine Fire Statistics:

                                       North              South

Fire Area:                      12387 ha         2860 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

 Photo: 'Dargo Catchment' from the top of Mt Higgie


Resort Threat: Very High – currently ACTIVE fires within Resort boundaries.

Conditions:       Currently; Light Rain and misty.  Temperature: 11’c (expected max. of 21’c)

  Humidity: 65% Wind: Due NW at 32 km/h with gusts to 50 km/h.

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


Current Status:

The ‘Harrietville – Alpine North and South Fires’ remain classified as ‘going’ and have continued to spread.

 Mt Hotham Village continues to be under direct threat from fires along its full Southern Boundary.  


The fire continues to burn against the SW boundary of the resort behind ‘Summit’, ‘Mt Higginbotham’ and the ‘Davenport Village’.  The CFA have successfully defended all buildings that have been threatened by the fire including; the ‘Big D’, ‘The General’ and all lodges from ‘Tantarni’ (next to the General Store) through to ‘Austen (at the end of Dargo Court).   The fire is in the ‘Baldy Creek/ Dargo Catchment’ and along the whole of the ‘Morning Start Spur’ facing the Resort.   The fires have burnt up to the site boundaries behind of many lodges facing the ‘Dargo Catchment’ - from ‘Tantarni’ through to ‘Austen’ - but  the fire is now ‘controlled’ in most of these burnt areas.  CFA/DSE units are located on ‘Big D’ and throughout the ‘Davenport Village’, especially at the ends of ‘Gallows Court’ and ‘Dargo Court’, ensuring there are no flare-ups behind the lodges in areas already burnt.  A control ‘cut’ was installed by the MHARMB from the ‘Big-D’ all the way to behind ‘Bembooka’ (at the end of Davenport Drive’).  Snow Guns are operating on the ‘Big-D’ to wet down the foliage and retard any fire should it top ‘Mt Higginbotham’ and ‘Big-D’ ski run. 

The three significant concerns are now the going fires at the bottom ‘Baldy Hollow’ and behind ‘Mt Higginbotham’, (which are threatening to run up onto the top of the ‘Big D’ and up onto the‘Summit’ respectively) plus the large ‘fire head’ which is current burning in the ‘Dargo Catchment’ behind and the very bottom of the gully between ‘Peninsula’ and ‘Bembooka’ Lodges.   There has been continuous heavy aerial water suppression by three helicopters since around 8.30am this morning - the aerial suppression will be maintained until daylight subsides this evening and will resume first light tomorrow, conditions permitting.  The lodges that are anticipate to come  under threat overnight have now had the grasses surrounding slashed and treated with ‘Foschek’ fire retardant around their perimeters. CFA/DSE units have been positioned along ‘Davenport Drive ‘and down at the Sewerage Treatment plant should fire burn up the valley walls toward the buildings at the S.E. end of ‘Davenport Drive’ and buildings on the S.W side of  ‘Dargo Court.’

Light rain has been falling since around 4pm resulting greater humidity and lower temperatures than forecast.  These improved conditions will assist significantly in slowing the progress of the fires and retarding re-ignition in areas already burnt, however the quantity of rain will be insufficient to extinguish the fronts.

The spot fires S.W. of ‘Dinner Plain Village’, have increased in size but not dramatically and have not yet taken a ‘long run’.  It is expected that the fire will progress further into the ‘Dargo Plains’ and toward ‘Dinner Plain Village’.  DSE have indicated the control activities are limited until the weather moderates as the fire moves through untracked terrain.  An eastern control line is being prepared along ‘Dinner Plain Track’ to protect private assets.  CRB units are being located around ‘Dinner Plain Village’, plant operations are continuing to prepare fall back lines in ‘Matheson Track’ area. Ground and Air Observers are in area but smoke and fire conditions are making it difficult to get accurate information on fire edge.

The fires in ‘Alpine-North’ continue to burn. In particular on the fires at ‘Dimantina River’ on west boundary of the Resort continue to be of concern;  However, protecting Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain townships from the fire has been the primary objective for today.  Preventing spread across the ‘Great Alpine Road’ into the ‘Cobungra Catchment’ is critical to containing the eastern flank of the fire.  Holding the hot edge to the west of the ‘Diamantina River’ remains critical for preventing the easterly expansion of the fire and for protecting ‘Mt Hotham’ from fire from the north.  Numerous hot spots remain, right down to the ‘Diamantina River’ bank.  DSE crews are using hand-held IR detectors to locate hot spots for suppression.


Telecommunication Issues:  Internet reliability issues experienced today have hampered the publication of a midday newsletter.  It is hoped these issues have now been addressed.


Photo: 'Dargo Catchment /Baldy Hollow' from 'Corral Carpark'

Photo: 270' Panoramic of Fire in 'Baldy Creek & Baldy Hollow'

Photo: Fire Retardant application between 'The Lodge' and  'Vagabond Lodge' 

Photo: Fire in the 'Dargo Catchment' - below Sewerage Treatment Plant


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 ringing the MHARMB Office on 03 57593550 or emailing



Andrew Lean

Media Liaison – MHARMB

09 February 2013