Hotham firefighters prepare for strong winds

Click across the above image for a map that shows the area the fire has burned.

UPDATE: The CFA has advised that the Harrietville–Feathertop fire will be known as the Harrietville–Alpine fire.

Since the fire started about two and a half weeks ago, it has moved south and there is potential for more spread into remote bushland, best known to many as the Alpine area.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said it was important the community take note of the name change and be aware of updated messages.

“Protecting lives and properties in these communities is our priority and, as part of that, we want to ensure the community has clear warnings,” he said.

"This fire has spread significantly from its point of origin, and the new name reflects the area where it has spread.

“We are expecting to be tested in the coming days and need communities to work with us to ensure that we make it through the worst of the conditions in the safest way possible.”

If you are directly affected, click here for the CFA website's latest updates.

3PM: DSE and CFA fire crews working on the Harrietville-Feathertop fire are gearing up for severe and unstable fire conditions into the evening.

Incident Controller, Tony Lovick, said the key priority for fire fighters today was safety, and the protection of communities which may be directly impacted by the fire.

Currently there is a Watch and Act warning message for the Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain communities.

See below for Watch and Act warning advice.

“We are expecting to be severely tested again today and need communities working with us to ensure that we make it through the worst of the conditions in the safest way possible.

“Both the Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain communities are well prepared for the threat of fire and are following a protection plan which has been implemented successfully on a number of past occasions.

“That being said, the weather conditions today are expected to result in severe fire behaviour and we need everyone involved in this incident, fire fighters and the community, to remain at a heightened level of awareness.”

Mr Lovick said the fire grew rapidly yesterday to 9200 hectares and crossed the Great Alpine Road at multiple locations south of Harrietville to the Dargo High Plains Road.

“Several spot fires are located to the west of the control line on the ridge, and are backing down the slope through high elevation forest that was burnt in 2003 and 2006.

“On the eastern side, fire has burnt down to the Diamantina River. Water-bombing operations are supporting rappel crews who are constructing a helipad near the river in preparation for ground crews to direct attack the hot spots.

“If we can hold the eastern edge of the fire at the Diamantina River that would be a major win for the combined fire fighting effort.”

The Great Alpine Road is impacted by fire and will remain closed until safe.

Harrietville resident Timothy Heuchan took these photos of the fire when it first broke out in January.

Harrietville resident Timothy Heuchan took these photos of the fire when it first broke out in January.

This map shows the area the fire has burned.

This map shows the area the fire has burned.

The Alpine National Park, south and east of Harrietville, including Mt Hotham, and north of Dargo, is currently closed. Surrounding areas of State Forest have also been closed.

1.55PM: FIREFIGHTERS in the mountains are bracing for deteriorating weather conditions from 5pm.

Last night the Harrietville-Feathertop fire burnt across the Great Alpine Road that was seen as a key containment line for finally putting the fire out.

Reports from the mountain say the road has been breached at various points from below Mt Hotham and down past the resort “ticket box”.

The fire is burning west of Hotham village at present but of equal concern is the eastern edge of the fire that is now looking likely to get into the Diamantina area, north of the ski resort.

Firefighters fear forecast strengthening winds could push a new firefront towards the village.


Incident Information

There is a large, fast moving bushfire in the Hotham Heights, Dinner Plain area.

This bushfire is approximately 9373 hectares in size and is out of control, currently creating spot-fires ahead.

The area of the Great Alpine Road, Dargo High Plains Road, including Hotham Heights, Dinner Plain, the Wongungarra River north of Dargo is unsafe to enter and you should leave that area immediately . 

The Great Alpine Road is closed between Harrietville and Dinner Plain. 

The Dargo High Plains Road is closed between Dargo and Great Alpine Road.

What to do

- Check and follow your bushfire survival plan & prepare for a bushfire in your area.

- 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 have a survival plan, well prepared and actively defended homes can provide safety.

- 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.