Mt Pleasant fire highlights need for promised CFA facility

A DELIBERATELY lit fire that burnt about 10 hectares of land in Mt Pleasant has reignited the push for a fire station to be built in the area.

More than two years after $2.5 million in funding was promised by the Coalition government, there have been few signs of progress regarding the construction of a new station. 

During the election campaign in 2010, then Liberal candidate and former City of Ballarat councillor Ben Taylor announced the government would invest $2.5 million in the high-risk Mount Clear/Mount Helen area.

His promise came on the back of a CFA strategy that outlined that the area was one of 52 high-risk areas in Victoria.

Yesterday’s fire in the dense bush that is typical of the area also underlined the need for a new fire station, according to Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard.

Fire crews were called to the Golden Point blaze about 12.30am yesterday, with reports of a grass and scrub fire at Elsworth Street.

Additional crews were called in for backup, and a 30-strong team of firefighters battled the fire.

Ballarat Fire Brigade captain Mark Cartledge said there was initial difficulty in fighting the fire, with dangerous terrain making it impossible for fire crews to get close to the flames.

It had already burnt about half a hectare by the time the first crews arrived.

With possible mineshafts making it too dangerous to fight the fire directly, fire crews lit their own fire around the perimeter to burn out the area before the fire spread.

A fire that burnt about 20 hectares on New Years Eve in 2009 that started on Tinworth Road in Mount Clear, previously highlighted the need for a new station.

Mr Howard, who has been lobbying the government to build the fire station since it came to power, said the area as a whole was a real concern.

He said he had raised the issue three times in parliament, as well as writing to Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan.

In September the government committed to a promised $700,000 upgrade of the Ballarat East Fire Station, however there has been no announcement yet as to the Mount Helen station.

The Courier understands an announcement about the promised fire station would be made on Thursday.

A firefighter mops up after the blaze in Elsworth Street.

A firefighter mops up after the blaze in Elsworth Street.


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