Home Australia Beaufort, Victoria bushfire evacuation: ‘Beast’ blaze closes in on town as 30,000 Aussies are ordered to leave their homes and 100 schools close

Beaufort, Victoria bushfire evacuation: ‘Beast’ blaze closes in on town as 30,000 Aussies are ordered to leave their homes and 100 schools close

by Elijah
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Tents are seen at Ballarat Base Camp, ahead of teams and volunteers heading to the battle against the Bayindeen fire, Victoria, Wednesday February 28, 2024. About 30,000 Victorians have been asked to leave their homes. homes as the state prepares for catastrophic wildfire conditions. . (AAP Image/With Chronis) DO NOT ARCHIVE

In less than 48 hours a tent village has sprung up in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat as firefighters and volunteers prepare for catastrophic conditions.

The 131-hectare Victoria Park in Ballarat has become a base camp for hundreds of fires ahead of Wednesday’s extreme and catastrophic fire danger in the state’s western, central and northern regions.

Firefighters could be there for more than a month, depending on how the rest of the fire season plays out.

Victoria County Fire Authority deputy chief Rohan Luke said it had been a significant effort to establish the camp in such a short time.

“Base camps usually take a while to set up,” he told reporters at the site Wednesday morning.

“It’s essentially a small municipality.”

The camp has enough tents for about 300 firefighters and is already half full after the arrival of NSW firefighters on Tuesday night.

“There were 160 people here last night,” Mr Luke said.

“When we bring night shift crews here… there are tents inside air-conditioned tents so day sleepers can get a good night’s sleep.”

Of the 160 campers, around 100 were from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and another 25 were from the New South Wales Fire Service.

Luke briefed NSW strike teams on Wednesday morning and said morale was high despite many people driving more than 10 hours from Sydney.

“They were able to eat well and sleep well at night,” he said.

Two of the strike teams will remain at base camp for now and two others will head to a pre-staging area in Ballan, east of Ballarat.

“What we have done is separate the working groups to allow them to give maximum footprint to cover a number of areas,” Mr Luke said.

The main concern for authorities is the Bayindeen fire, northwest of Ballarat, breaking containment lines under forecast high temperatures and strong winds and other fires that could cause dry lightning elsewhere.

“We can’t predict where it is,” Luke said.

‘The catastrophic weather (fire danger) in the Wimmera is where the most critical fires will occur, but we can’t take our eyes off the rest of the state either.

“In other parts of the state there is capacity to ensure that any new fires are attacked immediately.”

– Callum Godde for Australian Associated Press

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