D-Day: Feathertop fire bears down

TODAY is D-Day for a fierce bushfire on Mount Feathertop as it bears down on properties near Harrietville.

Firefighters say it is vital that they hold the fire today before the prospect of cooler weather at the weekend could ease the pressure.

Several bulldozers were busy yesterday building fire breaks as five planes fought the flames.

A lightning strike started the fire on Monday afternoon at Smoko, about eight kilometres north of Harrietville on the Great Alpine Road.

Department of Sustainability and Environment officers contained, but did not control, the fire on Monday night.

DSE agency commander Ken Firns said a crew was building a fire break by hand in the isolated and almost inaccessible terrain on Tuesday afternoon when wind blew sparks over containment lines.

It has since burned 1300 hectares and watch and act messages are in place for Harrietville, Falls Creek and Hotham Heights.

Bureau of Meteorology predictions of a northerly winds of up to 35km/h this morning and a 37-degree temperature today has left many uneasy.

“Tomorrow is the big day,” Mr Firns said.

There was some relief for the 90-plus firefighters yesterday when the south-east to south-west wind died down.

Mr Firns said it helped the fire was mostly on land burned before, reducing fuel.

“The fire has been kinder to us than expected,” he said.

He said no towns or properties were under threat last night.

“The most likely places today are Mount Hotham or Dinner Plain but we don’t believe there’s imminent threat,” he said.

Public meetings will be held at Bright at 11am and Mount Beauty at 2pm today.

A relief centre has been opened at Bright Community Centre.

Federation Hut and the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club on the Razorback Trail near Feathertop, which had been under threat, are now safe.

Mr Firns said the prospect of cooler weather at the weekend should allow back-burning.

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