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Vic fire update -

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Victorian fires update

Reporter: Ben Knight

HEATHER EWART: Geoff Thompson reporting from Banda Aceh. And before we go tonight we're getting
reports in that up to 20 homes are alight in bushfires on the East Coast of Tasmania. And, of
course, fires are still burning in Victoria. For the latest up in the high country we're going to
return to our reporter there, Ben Knight.

HEATHER EWART: Ben, what's the latest?

BEN KNIGHT: Well, Heather, the latest in Jamieson is that just behind us on the ridge the fire is
starting to appear and it's on its way to the town. Now that's something these strike teams behind
me will obviously be watching very, very closely. Because if these southerly winds continue it's
heading towards the town and they will be called in to protect these homes. And that's basically
their job at the moment. After a day of cooler conditions but very, very blustery winds, crews have
been trying to build containment lines, that is, areas that the fire should not be able to cross.
The cooler weather has helped but those winds have been very strong and very unpredictable. That's
meant they have crossed those containment lines, it's meant spot fires and road closures and it's
also meant that towns right across the fire area are facing urgent and immediate threats. Some of
those just to the south of us here, Gaffney's Creek and Woods Point, they are tonight defending
their houses with the help of CFA crews. What I can also tell you is that fires in Gippsland have
started to join together as of this afternoon and into this evening. That's not so much of a
problem at the moment, but it certainly could be later in the week when temperatures start to rise
again.

HEATHER EWART: There were, of course, dire predictions on the weekend of what might lie ahead. Is
there any feeling that those sort of warnings were perhaps overstated by authorities?

BEN KNIGHT: Well, there has been some discussion about this. In fact some of the CFA people
themselves at public meetings have been warning about not being afraid of the hype. But the CFA
management really aren't having any of that. They say that the risk was real, the risk is real, it
will be real later in the week and right through the summer and really, it's fortunate that the
predicted weather conditions of the high temperatures, the low humidity and the strong winds didn't
eventuate all at the same time and create that inferno that people were predicting.

HEATHER EWART: What is the most immediate worry for firefighters at the moment, would you say?

BEN KNIGHT: Well, it's actually very, very cool here at the moment in Jamieson and temperatures
have dropped and that cooler weather has been around today. That's helped a lot. It's really
enabled firefighters to take a bit of time to work on containment and to protect houses. But the
wind has been all over the place. It's been gusting up to 30, 40km/h. It's been very unpredictable
and when it whips up a fire out of nowhere, it obviously throws embers well forward of the fire.
It's created those spot fires and really it's made it very difficult to work out exactly where the
fire is going to be and what it's going to do.

HEATHER EWART: OK Ben, thanks for that. That is the program for tonight. We'll be back at the same
time tomorrow night, but for now goodnight.

(c) 2006 ABC