Harrietville fire flare-up a 'guessing game'

HIGH altitude winds have firefighters playing a guessing game with the danger hot weather brings to the Harrietville-Feathertop fire in the coming days.

Incident controller Tony Long last night said an extra CFA strike team had been added to a team already at Mount Hotham ahead of a predicted increase in temperatures.

He said the southerly firefront that poses a threat to the alpine resort and Dinner Plain continued to burn strongly, even at night.

Mr Long said while district forecasts had winds of just 20 to 30km/h predicted in the coming days, more detailed data suggested the winds would be much stronger in the high country.

“Just how much will be the question,” he said.

“We have been working hard on back-burning and creating containment lines — but the fuel up there is surprisingly dry and if we get a run like last Thursday when the fire was spotting up to three kilometres ahead of the main front, then nothing will contain that.” 

The Harrietville fire now has 246 firefighters on the scene.

A severe fire danger rating is forecast in the state’s south-west and north-central districts, with a very high rating elsewhere ahead of hot, dry and windy weather.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley is urging Victorians not to lapse into a false sense of security.

He said rainfall had been well below average over the past month.

“The lack of rain has completely dried most areas of grassland and bush across Victoria,” Mr Lapsley said.

“Traditionally, we know that February is a bad month for fires.”

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