wye fire disruption

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Beyond the Wye Fire Tony Smith Melbourne Emergence Meetup 11 February 2016

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Page 1: Wye Fire Disruption

Beyond the Wye Fire

Tony SmithMelbourne Emergence Meetup

11 February 2016

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Extreme heat forecast for Saturday 19 December had some but not all who had planned to set up for the summer put our arrival back a day.

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But a friend was already setup at the Jamieson Track bush camp. Late in the afternoon, dry lightning ignited two fires which were quickly spotted from Mt. Cowley tower.

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One was off Jamieson Track some distance up and in challenging terrain towards Jamieson River. Friend was promptly evacuated.

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After assurances, we could head to Cumbo next morning, though on final approach couldn't see past next bend for smoke.

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After community meetings in Lorne & Wye on the Wednesday anticipated containment within Jamieson area,

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it only took until 11:00 on a hot northerly Christmas/Friday morn for one falling tree to breach the line, choppers to return to suck up our river, and evacuations to

be ordered, urgently to the south, then as sensible precautions to

the north.

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While those of us at Cumbo were preparing to evacuate to Lorne, it was decided that Lorne too should also be evacuated, to Torquay or wherever, so I took my van to Jan Juc.

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While Lisa, Breanne and families propped in Lorne, I headed to morning meeting at Torquay evacuation centre before going back to Lorne for late afternoon meeting.

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Stayed on with Steve and Carol while Breanne found a site in Lorne and Lisa headed for the Murray.

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Cumbo evacuees were allowed back thru the road block on the

Sunday to pack, collect and leave again. After one more night of

fading hopes, my van went back to storage and the struggle to get Cumbo back amongst the places

mentioned continued online.

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The next meetings were Wednesday with a late change to the Lorne time forcing a travel change to get to Apollo Bay.

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Incident controller Alistair Drayton

Apollo Bay, Thursday 30 December

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The next hot days came and went without further incident. Cumbo reappeared in updates, but mentioned in the same tone as Jamieson Track bush camp.

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Instead of coming back to Cumbo on the Sunday, the only option was the CFA Benefit gig on Lorne foreshore where at least we got useful input from the local DWELP ranger who had evacuated my friend from Jamieson, but left Lorne with expectations for late in the week.

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Overnight I was granted access to the Emergency coördination website and was exploring it when better than hoped for news came in from Breanne.

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Campers had been suddenly invited back to Kennett Sunday evening, ahead of decision in the morning to allow us back to Cumbo, where even the animals made us welcome.

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Retrieving van from storage Tuesday morning, first priority was to confirm cabaret arrangements which Micah sorted immediately before finding a koala intrigued by his duck imitation.

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Beyond a more than half empty camp there were reminders things weren't back to normal. DWELP and Parks gangs from around the state assembled in our Cypress-free carpark before heading up Cumberland Track.

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And we were reminded that only the short track to Jebbs was officially open to us.

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More than 2 weeks after coming back, walking tracks remained closed, so while week 4 guitarists were making progress into a candlelit evening,

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it was time to revisit a long ago getaway now on the Great Ocean Walk near Cape Otway.

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What preceded follows a structure designed to serve as a preface to the annual Cumbo camp cabaret video.

But the total experience also informs other questions:

Can we improve workings between designated authorities, official advisers and an interested public?

How close is the current swathe of internet services, Facebook in particular, to delivering our 1980s vision?

How do we even start fixing public lands management?

Can we widen participation following the recent explosion of interest in aboriginal land management?