Over 20 Victorian emergency warnings have been placed 2 days ago as bushfires intensified across East of the state accompanied by challenging wind changes battled by firefighters to control the blazes.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp had previously warned of the dangers of the wind change leading into yesterday’s blazes.
Commissioner Andrew Crisp previously added that they were certainly concerned with the change that was coming through and that it will mean that the eastern flank of the fire will become the head of the fire. Commissioner Crisp also stated that the wind change “will present certain challenges for our firefighters” and that due to the dangerous conditions for firefighters, not every home could be saved, indicating “Our priority is protecting life”. Commissioner Crisp added that people cannot expect a fire truck at every house as there is just not enough to go around.
Jinks Creek Winery owner Andrew Clarke stated in an interview at 9News in Victoria’s Bunyip State Park that, “it is history repeating.” Andrew Clarke said he warned this would happen and now he has lost everything.
Andrew Clarke had been previously interviewed in 2008 after a fire had just neared destroying his home and livelihood.
Jinks Creek Winery was located about an hour East of Melbourne on a rolling hill, and as the news presenter recalled, Andrew warned that bushfires would have a devastating effect on his community unless more hazard reduction work was done by the government. Clarke quoted “An incident like this could well have been staved off earlier, and a lot more successfully, if (fire preparation) had been managed properly,” he told news presenter on April 26, 2008.
Yesterday morning, Andrew Clarke told Today, “I’ve tried to get the message through to Parks Victoria for years and years and years, and nothing has been done.” He also added that they feel that their lack of preparation in the forest out the back of their place, in particular, was a telling factor in the ferocity of the fire, because the fuel load on the floor in the forest has never been dealt with.
Many Gippsland residents agreed that Andrew Clarke is never alone in putting the blame to the authorities on the gravity of the blaze for their lack of pre-emptive work. As a matter of fact, a Royal Commission is also in agreement – the resulting inquiry after the Black Saturday fires recommended more hazard reduction burns take place.
There are many who blame the Victorian government and have claimed that the government focused too much on concerns from Green groups and have not paid enough attention to the community risks.
Andrew Clarke mentioned that over the last couple of years, there have been scheduled hazard reduction burns for the Bunyip State Park but claimed that they have been postponed due to an effort in protecting native birds nesting the area. Clarke added, “the irony is that the bird’s habitat is now destroyed anyway – along with the homes of many other species, and most importantly, people’s homes.”
Today, bushfire threat across Victoria is heading somewhere East and firefighters are still working hard on more than 30 blazes that are still burning today across the state.
Andrew Crisp complimented that the firefighters “are doing an absolutely fantastic job as they work in these cooler and more – I guess calmer conditions to build and work on those fires, build the containment lines and do what more we need to do as I have been doing all the way through this to keep our community safe.” Although a few of the residents are still unable to get back to their homes, Crisp stated that they have been working through that particularly with the Bunyip fires. Crisp added, “we have teams on the ground again doing further impact assessments today. We know from yesterday that they inspected more than 290 properties.”
“We did confirm yesterday about 9 houses being destroyed another one being damaged and 23 other buildings that have also been damaged. We expect that number to grow today. “ Crisp also assured that there have been community meetings where they are in constant communication with the community and that they want to get people as soon as they can but it has got to be safe to do so.
“I spoke to people coming off the fire ground that they are cutting down trees making the area safe to get people back in as soon as we can.”
As of today, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is still refusing to come on the show to answer questions, leaving Andrew Crisp to do the talking.
Andrew Crisp added that he is “happy to talk about planned burning as has been Chris Hardman the Chief of Forest Fire Management Victoria.”
“What we are saying is there have been planned burns in those areas in 2016-2017. I have heard Chief Hardman talk about – do we want to do more? Yes, we want to do more, but again, we all know the conditions in which we live in these days.”
“We have had two years of record low rainfall in relation to the East of the State. The window for contacting those planned burns are very very small so we need to do what more we can, what more we can do with landowners with private land and how we better communicate get people out of there.”
Andrew Crisp emphasized that “I think the important thing to keep in mind – and I really feel for people who lost properties but at least they have the opportunity to talk about it at this stage – we have got no unaccounted persons, no missing persons and protection of life should come first.”