Grampians, Black Range fires burn 53,000 hectares

THE Wimmera will brace itself this week as it deals with the aftermath of nearly 53,000 hectares of bushfires.

The Grampians bore the brunt, with 52,000 hectares burning, while the Black Range fire measured 975 hectares.

Horsham Incident Control Centre media officer Robyn Hobbs said the fires had a perimeter of 189 kilometres, and 10 houses had been destroyed.

She said five houses were in the Wartook and Brimpaen area, three in Dadswells Bridge and St Helens Plains and two in the Grampians National Park.

The Troopers Creek Tavern was engulfed, while the Happy Wanderer Holiday Resort and Caravan Park at Wartook also suffered some property losses.

The historic homestead Rosebrook in Wartook, home to seven generations of the Carter family since 1858, was also destroyed.

The Northern Grampians fire also claimed the life of a woman in Roses Gap.

Mrs Hobbs said by last night stock losses were about 7000, with veterinarians and assessors visiting affected properties.

She said fire-fighting crews came from Geelong, Colac, the Otways, Warnnambool, Hamilton, Portland, Ararat, Ballarat and outer metropolitan areas to help with the blazes.

“We have 700 personnel, 87 tankers, about 120 fire-fighting vehicles, nine dozers, five fixed-wing aircraft and seven helicopters,’’ she said.

“There are also a number of graders and excavators.’’

Evacuated residents flocked to relief centres in Stawell and Horsham.

Mrs Hobbs said the Stawell centre had 364 registrations, while Horsham had 54 registrations.

Halls Gap and Dadswells Bridge were opened to the public on Sunday.

 Road closures on the Western Highway also ceased, while the Grampians National Park will open Monday at noon.

Pomonal residents who stayed to defend their properties on Friday were also left without water due to a problem with the main pipeline from Halls Gap to Pomonal. 

The Pomonal Rural Fire Brigade announced via its Facebook page on Saturday that the mains water had returned, but was untreated and at half the normal pressure.

GWMWater also turned off the Halls Gap Water Treatment Plant on Friday because of the fires.

The water authority put boil water notices in force for water taken from the Halls Gap and Pomonal town water supply systems.

Mrs Hobbs said bottled water was available at the Halls Gap service station and the Pomonal General Store. The boil water notice will remain in place until further notice.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine toured the region on Saturday, visiting Horsham, Brimpaen and Stawell.

He commended emergency services on their efforts with the Grampians fires.

“This is a stark reminder to all Victorians that we do live in a fire-prone part of the world,” he said.

Dr Napthine said the State Government would work with councils to help re-build communities devastated by the fires.

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