FIREFIGHTERS lit 300 hectares of bushland near Harrietville last night in a protective burn that scorched the last of the dry forest fuel load south of the town.
In a move many days in the planning, Harrietville is now bordered by only burnt-out areas of the Alpine National Park.
Yet disruption to the town is likely to continue for a week, if not more, as the fire continues to smoulder in steep and inaccessible terrain.
The Great Alpine Road to Omeo has been closed just south of the town to Dinner Plain and while workers at Hotham can get special permission to travel up the road for now, there is no guarantee they will in the days to come.
There is frustration from some residents, including CFA members, that those managing the fire lacked a local perspective and took too long to get things done.
But their CFA captain Gary Weston said planning took time and human lives were the priority.
He said it was a matter of letting nature do its job and waiting for the fire to rear its head from inaccessible areas while firefighters removed the fuel load in front of the fire.
Former butcher Barry Moody and CFA volunteer Bill Jones believe if water bombers had arrived at daybreak, instead of after 11am, and firefighters had “thrown everything they had at it” they could have put out the fire completely.
North East fire and land manger for DSE, Shaun Lawlor, said throwing everything at it was what they did.
“We responded with all the resources that we needed,” he said.
It was rare that aircraft themselves would put a fire out.