Trapped on mountain as Hotham fire arrives

VIDEO: Mount Hotham snow cam becomes fire cam.

11.05AM UPDATE: The fire threat has been downgraded for Harrietville-Feathertop fire that threatened to consume Mount Hotham.

There is now a 'Watch and Act' warning current for Mount Hotham and Hotham Heights.

See WATCH AND ACT information below.

Weather gods have smiled on firefighters this morning.

About two millimetres of rain has fallen in the past two hours and, most importantly, winds have dropped, helping firefighters contain the blaze.

It has continued to drizzle all morning and the temperature has not reached 10 degrees.

RELATED: CFA scotches criticism as startling images of Harrietville fire emerge

Up to 50 Mount Hotham Resort staff were under siege from the 5000 hectare fire overnight.

They were on high alert for spot fires that were jumping 500 metres ahead of the firefront.

About 120 firefighters were tackling the flames after northerly gusts of wind blew the fire over containment lines about 4.30pm.

“It took 15-20 minutes and all of a sudden there was a fire on the major ski run,” Jackfrost bar owner Adam Ashley said last night.

“We can’t leave now. That makes it that little bit more intimidating.”

Mr Ashley said the inferno had come within 25 metres of his Great Alpine Road bar before water bombers, kept away from the fire all afternoon because of strong gusts of wind, arrived to kept it at bay.

He described thick smoke enveloping the village in the early evening and the glow of the fire only metres away.

He said all 25 staff were safe and, despite spot fires, no property had been burned.

The staff had prepared for fire for weeks.

He said they all hoped for a wind-change to blow the fire back on itself.

Apart from fighting spot fires, Mr Ashley said the staff would serve drinks and dinner for firefighters.

Mount Hotham ski resort management board chief executive Jim Atteridge, also speaking from the mountain last night, said embers had sparked one spot fire in the village below the Hotham police station and two on ski fields.

He said the ski resort’s equipment had been used to drench buildings in the village.

A DSE spokeswoman said there were already 120 firefighters on the ground working on containment lines. Four strike teams, consisting of up to 120 people, arrived last night.

A CFA emergency warning to Mount Hotham, Hotham Heights and Dinner Plain was still in place at 10.15pm.

It warned that the fire was out of control and creating spot fires about 500 metres ahead.

As response teams fought the fires, Melbourne was being lashed by its first significant rainstorm in weeks.

WATCH AND ACT warning for MOUNT HOTHAM and HOTHAM HEIGHTS issued at 10.22am

Incident Information:

There is a large, slow moving bushfire in the Hotham Heights, Mount Hotham area.

Crews are working on containing spot fires at Mount Hotham.

This bushfire is approximately 5000 hectares in size and is out of control.

The Great Alpine Road is closed between Harrietville and Dinner Plain and the Dargo High Plains Road is closed.

What to do:

A fire is in the area, it may be close to you; follow your bushfire survival plan.

If you plan to leave or do not have a survival plan, leave now.

Turn on your vehicle headlights and drive slowly; smoke will make it difficult to see.

If you are away from home;  do not return.

If time permits, check your neighbours to see if they are monitoring conditions.

If you are experiencing any symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure, the Department of Health advises people to seek medical advice or call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.

Additional Information:

 For General Bushfire Information

Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667 or www.cfa.vic.gov.au.

Stay Informed: 

ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations or watching Sky News TV.

Deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment can contact VBIL via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677.

Road closures: Check www.vicroads.vic.gov.au

Tourists: Stay away from the listed areas.

For life or property threatening emergencies: Call 000

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