Update: Hotham, Harrietville on fire alert

RELATED COVERAGE: D-Day: Feathertop fire bears down

4.15PM: THERE is a high chance Mount Hotham will be hit by fire tonight, but fire authorities are confident of protecting assets.

Geoff Rowe, deputy incident controller for the Harrietville-Feathertop fire, said they had predicted that the fire could arrive as early as 6pm.

“It looks probable (that Hotham will be impacted by fire at some stage). There’s a high risk,” Mr Rowe said.

However, with three strike teams in place and crews from the resource management board and lift company, there is confidence that no assets will be lost.

Meanwhile, Harrietville residents were told they must decided whether they will stay or defend their homes by 6pm tonight.

Fire is about 500 metres from the township.

Control lines that have been used successfully before will be used again, and fire authorities are confident the control lines will help protect all assets.

Mr Rowe said the fire was slow-moving but emphasised that it only takes “a burning log rolling down a hill and suddenly the fire will be on the their doorstep”.

For more information visit the CFA website, www.cfa.vic.gov.au.

12PM: A STRIKE team is at Mount Hotham preparing for the possibility a fire could impact the resort this afternoon.

Tom Pelly, from Mt Hotham resort management, said it was becoming quite smoky in the area and they could see helicopters working on the fire.

The CFA has issued a warning saying they expect the fire to impact on Harrietville and Hotham Heights any time within the next 24 hours.

Mr Pelly said, based on information they’d received, that scenario was entirely possible.

“But we’re pretty prepared,” he said.

“The snow making facilitates are ready to run. Protecting assets, and of course life, is the main thing.”

There are only about 50 people remaining on the mountain now, all with roles to play in a potential fire fight, including the CFA strike team and seven or eight units manned by the lift crews and resort management.

This morning organisers of the Audax Alpine Classic cycling event to be held on Sunday announced they would be re-routing all events to Mt Buffalo to avoid bushfire affected areas. 

A community meeting was held at Bright this morning and another meeting is scheduled for Mount Beauty at 2pm.

Authorities say these towns are not yet considered under threat, but informing the residents was important because of the large number of people in these areas.

The fire has currently burnt about 1300 hectares, making minimal progress overnight.

The Great Alpine Road is closed between Harrietville and Hotham Heights.

Bushwalkers and other forest users are advised that the Alpine National Park east of Harrietville is closed.

Smoke maybe visible from nearby communities and roads.

For more information visit the CFA website, www.cfa.vic.gov.au.

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