CFA confident Chepstowe fire controlled as Total Fire Ban issued 

TOTAL FIRE BAN: What you can and can't do

COMMUNITIES in the Ballarat district are bracing for severe weather just days after a 1300 hectare fire destroyed properties west of the city.

A Total Fire Ban has been announced for the entire state, with temperatures expected to reach into the high 30s and strong northerly winds to hit north and central regions. Ballarat is expecting a top of 36C today.

The ban comes as the Country Fire Authority yesterday said it was “very confident” that containment lines around the 1300-hectare Chepstowe-Carngham blaze which began on Tuesday afternoon would hold, despite the weather predictions.

Nine houses, including the 120-year-old historic Carngham Station homestead, were destroyed  and an estimated 600-1000 livestock also perished as the fire tore through farmland.

Firefighting personnel contained the Carngham blaze at 9pm on Tuesday and have established a 10km mineral earth break along the perimeter.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said local firefighters would continue to monitor the fire to ensure no flare-ups took hold.

“On the assessment of the incident controller, there shouldn’t be a worry with that fire at all, but again we will still monitor it just to ensure that’s the case,” Mr Lapsley said.

Mr Lapsley said Victoria was very dry, particularly in central and western areas.

“Tomorrow with temperatures being high, the wind north-westerly and 40-50km/h means that fires will move very fast and will be out of control within a very short time of taking hold.”

Country Fire Authority operations officer David Harris yesterday urged people in areas that may be affected by fire to consider their bushfire survival plans and consult a range of sources for fire information.

Acting Premier Peter Ryan on Wednesday said people caught in bushfire zones should not rely on SMS warnings alone.

Mr Ryan said locals should keep a back-up battery radio to monitor warnings in case power is lost during a blaze.

“People need to understand that the SMS system is but one element of a suite of warning systems,” Mr Ryan said.

“You will be hearing on the radio that there is trouble.

“The idea is that you should have some battery radio available to you, if you lose power.”

- with AAP

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