Fierce forest fire

Photo: Brian Wilson

A thick layer of smoke has blanketed parts of the Macedon Ranges after lightning sparked a fierce blaze in the Cobaw Forest near Pipers Creek about 4pm Sunday.
About 40 CFA, Forest Fire Management and Parks Victoria crews attacked the firefront that threatened farming properties.
Emergency warning alerts were issued as winds spread embers over a large area.
CFA brigades also patrolled surrounding hills and grasslands ready to pounce on spot fires.
Although weather conditions were favourable following the initial storm front, no aerial firefighting support was available.
The ‘Helitack’ aircraft assigned to protect this area was relocated from its base at Bendigo to fight the fires in Victoria’s northeast last week, although the primary air coverage for this area was from elsewhere.
Incident controller Hugh Kelly said air support was available from both Mangalore and Bacchus Marsh at the time of the fire erupting but a combination of the late hour and lightning in the area meant that aircraft were unable to take off.
“Helitak aircraft are not allowed in the air during lightning strikes ‚Ķ and there was significant activity at the time,” Commander Kelly said.
“More than 100 hectares were burnt in the fire, with crews doing a great job to contain it to private bushland.”
Local CFA brigades set up around several houses for asset protection for the night.
Comm Kelly said crews remained on scene overnight to monitor the fire, before significant work began soon after dawn.
“Helitak was supported by a taskforce from the CFA, DELWP and Forest Fire Management including two bulldozers and an excavator clearing a bare earth break around the fire and downing dangerous trees,” he said.

An air observation helicopter clipped a powerline this morning but was able to land safely with just some damage to the windscreen.
A grass and scrub fire was also sparked by lightning late Sunday in the Cobaws on McKinley Track.
CFA crews from Newham, Hesket Kerrie and Lancefield, along with Forest Fire Management Victoria crews, worked efficiently to get the fire under control.