FIREFIGHTING aircraft spent the weekend water bombing blazes in the Great Otway National Park near Lorne with government fire crews remaining on alert yesterday.
Lightning strikes sparked bushfires in difficult-to-access areas of the Otways near Jamieson Track, eight kilometres south-west of Lorne, and near Mount Cowley, 12 kilometres west of Lorne on Saturday.
Temperatures reached 42.6 degrees Celsius with 109-kilometre winds at Colac’s Mount Gellibrand weather station and 36.2 degrees Celsius with 91-kilometre winds at Cape Otway on Saturday.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning had fire crews on the ground with air support from water-bombing planes and helicopters.
The Jamieson Track fire had destroyed more than 30 hectares of remote bush, while the Delaney Road blaze had burnt almost 10 hectares when the Colac Herald went to print.
Country Fire Authority Corangamite group officer Mark Billing said yesterday morning that CFA crews along the coast including Wye River and Lorne were on call, waiting to see what impact the afternoon’s wind change had on the national park fires and if the CFA could assist.
Mr Billing said lightning strikes on Saturday had caused other small fires across the district including a single tree fire at Kennedy’s Creek on Saturday which crews contained quickly.
Firefighters from the district including two command vehicles had battled fires at Scotsburn near Ballarat yesterday which destroyed homes and more than 4000 hectares.
“Crews from Cororooke, Larpent, Barongarook, Swan Marsh, Timboon, Pomborneit, Beeac and Derrinallum were up there at 6am; but we’re making sure we still have fire coverage across the district.
“The fires towards Lorne are department fires because it’s crown land; they’re using aircraft to bomb the fires because vehicle access is difficult.
“We’ve been lucky with all the lightning strikes on Saturday that we also had that little bit of rain.”
Lorne police Sergeant David Cooper said Lorne was “very busy” yesterday with tourists flocking to the town, and police had reassured people there was no reason to panic but they should monitor the fires through emergency services websites and radio.
Sgt Cooper said he expected yesterday’s rain would provide “some relief”.
Meanwhile, Colac State Emergency Service crews spent the weekend clearing trees from roads and repairing roof damage as 100-kilometre winds lashed Colac and district.