OVENS and Murray district swimmers are taking part in the Victorian Country Championships close to one of the most worrying bushfires in the state.
The annual titles are being held at Sale which became a refuge point for victims of the bushfire that broke out at nearby Seaton and Glenmaggie more than a week ago.
The Gippsland fire has already claimed the life of one person and razed more than 10 homes.
It has burnt about 70,000 hectares ahead of another feared outbreak fanned by hot northerly winds overnight and today when the swimming titles will officially start.
Swimmers from Wodonga, Wangaratta and Yarrawonga-Mulwala are competing at Sale with some forced to change travel plans at the last minute due to another fire near Mount Hotham.
The Great Alpine Road is closed between Harrietville and Mount Hotham forcing competitors, coaches and officials to travel the longer distance to Sale via Melbourne.
Swimming Victoria was in regular contact with local authorities in the lead-up to the championships about any threat to Sale from the fires.
“The advice is that Sale will not be affected by the current bushfire risk,” a Swimming Victoria spokesman said.
“All district, clubs and members travelling to Sale are to seek advice and assess their own travel and accommodation arrangements.”
Northerly winds in Gippsland are expected to increase before turning south-westerly with the arrival of the cool change mid-afternoon today.