Residents in the area were given advice to leave the area if they felt that either they or their properties could not be defended.
Representatives of Forest Fire Management Victoria, CFA, Victorian Police and Rural City of Wangaratta Council were in attendance and fielded questions from the audience with regards to expected outcomes over the weekend and the location of evacuation centres for those leaving their homes.
Those choosing to evacuate were advised that Wangaratta was not only accepting evacuees but also domestic animals and livestock.
Those gathered were told that expected weather conditions on Saturday would see temperatures in the mid to high 30’s with next Thursday also bringing less than ideal conditions for areas under threat.
One of the key speakers was James “Jimmy” Findlay, captain of the Cheshunt CFA Fire Brigade, who answered questions and went to lengths to assure those gathered that they would be keeping local resources local, that they would not be leaving the area.
In closing he told the group his brigade would be doing what it could.
Speaking to the Wangaratta Chronicle following the meeting Mr Findlay said in light of the community receiving messages with regards to evacuating from the Victorian Government in light of the amount of smoke in the district.
“We know there are a couple of fires out and around in the district…the meeting was called to clarify what’s going on and to ease people’s concerns, and to give clear information,” he said.
Mr Findlay emphasized the importance of people once advised of the seriousness of a situation activating their survival plan, taking responsibility for themselves and their families and if given the opportunity to leave to do so.
Asked his thoughts on whether or not people would stay and defend their properties or evacuate Mr Findlay believed that it was a “mixed bag”.
“There are people now preparing to leave and that’s a good decision, hopefully those staying will have prepared, they should not expect to have a fire truck turn up to their properties,” he said.
“We know we are going to be on the truck, we know no one maybe at our house, we know we might not have a fire truck, we know we may lose our houses and you just have to accept that.”
For up-to-date fire information go to the VicEmergency website https://www.emergency.vic.gov.au