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Firefighters on top of blazes


National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) are advising locals an increase of smoke in the Blowering region is the result of a controlled burn and is not cause for alarm.

NPWS Southern Ranges Regional Manager Mick Pettit said Friday afternoon that crews will be burning unburnt land between an established dozer line and the edge of a fire started by lightning Wednesday evening in order to get rid of fuel.

“People may start to see smoke around Blowering, but we want to be clear the fire is not out of control,” Mr Pettit said.

“We have a dozer line set up around the fire, but there is a section of unburnt land between the dozer line and the fire. For topographical reasons we weren’t able to get the dozer line any closer to the fire. We will be doing a control burning of fuel from the dozer line up to the fire.”

Mr Pettit said around 25 NPWS crew are working the Blowering blaze, which was one of three fires sparked by Wednesday’s lightning.

Four RFS vehicles and five helicopters will support NPWS, with RMS on standby to assist.

At this stage Mr Pettit does not believe the additional smoke will affect traffic on the Snowy Mountains Highway, but have notified RMS in case viability is affected.

Since Wednesday night RFS and NPWS have been working tirelessly on blazes at Blowering, Ugly Creek, Mt Hovell and Dinner Trail Track, all of which are now classified as contained.

Mr Pettit has praised the work of the RFS and NPWS who not only had to deal with fire, but some of whom found themselves stranded in the rain.

“We’re really happy with how things have progressed. At Mt Hovell we had a remote team winched in who did a great job controlling the blaze and have blacked it out,” Mr Pettit said.

“They left yesterday afternoon but when the storm went through we actually couldn’t fly and lift them out, so they ended up walking around five kilometres to get out, but it kept them warm. They did a fantastic job.”

Since leaving yesterday NPWS have conducted two fly over tests with heat seeking cameras and found no heat source anywhere at the site.

Mr Pettit said despite the remote landscape crews have successfully created a dozer line around the fire at Ugly Creek, with ground crews and helicopters continuing to work on the contained fire.

A ground crew has also been successfully winched to the Dinner Time Trail fire, with a dozer currently working to create vehicle access to the site.

“Dinner Time was the most remote but we’ve got about 12 crews in working to knock down hot spots with helicopter support,” he said.

“We’ve got a dozer from Ricky Ryan a local lad and were working to cut a path into the fire, aiming to give ground vehicle access.”

Mr Pettit said the recent rainfall was not significant enough to douse the many fires, but it did assist crews in getting all four fires under control.

“We didn’t have a great deal of rain, probably only two to three mls but with the clouds and the humidity it was enough to knock the fires down a bit,” he said.

“Now we’re just going to keep working to extinguish the fires before the heat returns. “