Thursday, 13 February 2014

Fires Threatened 13,000 Lives

13,000 Mickleham-Kilmore residents, some within a few kilometres of the fire area, could have been affected within minutes by sudden wind changes.

June McKennie and George Breen on her property on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Armao
Extract From The Age, Thousands at risk on urban fringe, CFA fire map shows, 13 February 2014

The Mickleham-Kilmore fire was a threat to the lives or safety of 13,000 people as it spread rapidly towards 5000 homes. The figures, based on CFA mapping, illustrate the gravity of the threat to Melbourne's fast-growing outer fringe and nearby rural communities.

Deputy incident controller Tim Butcher, said the numbers illustrated the complexity of the fire and its vast impact.

''It really highlights the importance to communities and property owners to actually develop their bushfire survival plan. And to work out what they're going to do in cases of fire,'' he said.

''While we have a very modern, capable, volunteer response force in the CFA we cannot guarantee that individual houses will be safe, we cannot guarantee that we can protect all property.

''These fires can be spreading at 20 kilometres an hour.''

Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said livestock losses from the Mickleham fire ''could be as high as 20,000'', and the fire would be a setback for many farmers. It is believed it affected about 500 farms. Mr Walsh feared some farms were severely affected, suffering big stock, pasture and fencing losses.

''It effectively means they'll have no income for this year. And, depending on when it rains and when they can actually re-stock the property, they're looking at negative incomes for two or three years probably,'' he said.

The impact of the fast-moving fire on the rural community of Darraweit Guim was apparent early on Monday. Every couple of minutes shots rang out as charred livestock were destroyed. In some places the shootings started on Sunday night.

Volunteers are needed desperately to help. Contact Blaze Aid if you want to do something meaningful for the farm victims.

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