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Rain fails to douse bushfire threat -

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Reporter: Rachael Brown

ELEANOR HALL: Fire authorities are warning Victorians that this morning's rain has not removed the
fire danger.

Northerly winds are expected to gust up to 100 kilometres an hour in some areas of the state this
afternoon.

Rachael Brown spoke to the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Kevin Monk.

KEVIN MONK: The winds are actually picking up as we speak in the north and there is also a strong
south-westerly wind change due across the state later on this afternoon. The rain that we have had
is very minimal possible only one to two millimetres in places. So we have still got strong winds
forecast.

RACHAEL BROWN: Gusting up to how much at the moment?

KEVIN MONK: Gusting up to 90 to 100 k in various places.

RACHAEL BROWN: Can you explain just what type of damage they could do?

KEVIN MONK: That can blow over trees and break branches. We have already got reports of power lines
down at Mount Massenden.

RACHAEL BROWN: And the south-easterly - what time is that expected?

KEVIN MONK: It is expected to go across starting in the west of the state later on this afternoon
and then reach Melbourne by about 5pm.

RACHAEL BROWN: And there are four fires still burning across Victoria, albeit contained at Wilsons
Prom, Bunyip, the Kilmore East, Murrindindi south complex and Kilmore East Murrindindi north.

KEVIN MONK: Yes that is correct.

RACHAEL BROWN: Do the strong winds today or the wind change this afternoon pose particular problems
for any of those four fires?

KEVIN MONK: Yes. Under the northerly conditions, our area of concern then becomes the upper Yarra
Valley say from Healesville around Warburton further along. They are still under pieces of country
in that fire area that may spot over and cause some concerns to those communities. We've got large
numbers of resources in that area monitoring that.

And then as the south-west wind change comes through, our concern then moves to the easterly part
of the fire south of Lake Eildon. We have some difficult fire country there. We have been working
on part of that fire over the last week and our concern is that it may spot over our control line
in that area.

RACHAEL BROWN: How far are you expecting some fires to spot today?

KEVIN MONK: If they get a decent run-up they can go 10 to 15 kilometres.

RACHAEL BROWN: And have there been any urgent threat measures issued for any communities today?

KEVIN MONK: No. There is no urgent threat messages out. We have told communities surrounding these
fires that they may see smoke and people need to be alert. They need to listen to their local radio
station for any new fires that start in their area.

RACHAEL BROWN: And what about lightening strikes?

KEVIN MONK: Yes there is a possibility of lightning strikes, however there is also some possibility
of rain - between five and 15 millimetres coming through with the change later on today. So that
will be a welcome relief for many people.

RACHAEL BROWN: With the rain, how many mils have we seen fallen already today?

KEVIN MONK: Only a couple of mils in places today - nothing significant. It will dry up quickly.

RACHAEL BROWN: And what about hindering fire crews out there on the lines at the moment?

KEVIN MONK: Sometimes it makes the fire tracks a bit slippery and makes it difficult to do our back
burning; but I haven't heard any of those reports in yet.

RACHAEL BROWN: So it sounds like the rain won't provide as much relief as people would have hoped
so the winds are the main problem. How long will they continue for into tonight?

KEVIN MONK: Well, the strong winds should abate over tonight but we have got southerly cooler
conditions for at least four or five days so that is going to allow us more time to wrap up the
fires that we have got going. And again, depending on where the rain falls and how much of that can
be helpful to controlling our fires.

RACHAEL BROWN: So if crews can hold lines today then the prospects are good for the rest of the
week?

KEVIN MONK: Oh, I'd say we'll know this time tomorrow how things are looking on those four major
fires that we have.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Kevin Monk, from the Victorian Environment Department speaking to Rachael
Brown.