Harrietville emergency ‘media hype’

HARRIETVILLE Cabins and Caravan Park owner Brian “Butch” Thomas said “hyped-up” media reports had given a false impression that his town was about to be consumed by the nearby fire.

“We’re still here, my family is still here, we haven’t even packed the car,” he said.

Strong winds predicted yesterday morning never eventuated, and Mr Thomas and his son Lachie, 19, spent the early hours of yesterday watching the red glow on the mountain in front of the caravan park.

The pair then spent the afternoon down at the pub and caught up with other CFA volunteers at the fire station next door to their property.

Lachie Thomas’ T-shirt carried the message “Vanessa says relax”.

“The media are hyping it up,” Butch said.

“We’re not worried at all and it is very frustrating that it has been so hyped-up.

“Government agencies are protecting their posterior saying ‘we did warn you’.

“They forget about the businesses — we’ve lost $6000 this weekend.”

This weekend is one of the busiest of the year, particularly with the Audax Alpine Classic.

Mr Thomas said the park had been completely booked but from the start of the week, as the fire intensified, his 500 customers began to pack up and leave.

Yesterday, he had just one paying customer.

“I’m annoyed, but you’ve got to be sensible about the whole thing, you don’t want people coming up here panicking,” he said.

“People do panic, they get scared.”

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