Fire stopped only metres from lodges

8.30am update: A Watch and Act alert was issued for Harrietville and Alpine North this morning as fire activity increased in the Sambas Mine area.

The CFA has warned of increased fire and smoke activity, with reports of smoke seen 10 kilometres north of Wangaratta on the Hume Freeway.

Fire activity is likely to increase later in the day.

Locals are reminded to remain vigilant.

FIREFIGHTERS were yesterday breathing more easily after the Harrietville fire came within metres of multi million-dollar chalets and lodges at Mount Hotham on Saturday.

Helicopter water bombers and CFA strike teams were all that kept the fire from the alpine village.

Mount Hotham’s Gina Woodward said a fire front had been stopped only metres from the Asgaard lodge, next door to the well-known general store.

“It was only that the helicopters were there to bomb the fire that they were saved; it is so steep they couldn’t use firefighters, the fire couldn’t have been stopped,” she said.

“The fire also came right up to the Big D area where we have the kids skiing in winter.

“At the moment it is on one of the spurs between here and Dinner Plain and they are working hard on the fire in the Diamantina area.”

Ovens incident controller Tony Lovick said backburning operations yesterday were looking to corral the fire into bushland and avoid further threats to Harrietville, Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain.

But he warned it was set to be a long fight.

“This is now looking at a campaign like 2003 and 2006-07; we are certainly not going to see the end of the fire in the next week,” he said.

“Hopefully we can turn these fires away from assets and get some meaningful rain in the coming weeks to finally put this out.”

Backburns along the Great Alpine Road between Dinner Plain and Mount Hotham are expected to continue today.

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