Extra fire crews will be on stand-by to fight Victoria's
Morwell mine fire ahead of windier conditions predicted over
the next two days.
Authorities have at least two extra strike teams on ready in
case expected higher winds aggravate the fire that has been
burning in the mine since February 9.
Crews are hoping they do not see a repeat of last Tuesday
where fire escaped the mine, igniting a grass fire near the
Hazlewood power station.
Incident controller Bob Barry says the fire fight in recent
days has been successful, reducing fire activity in the mine,
but tomorrow and Wednesday may be challenging.
"We could have a very similar scenario to last Tuesday," he
"We're preparing for that."
Authorities plan to bring two additional aircraft to support
the fire fight and extra ground crews are on ready to protect
infrastructure outside the mine.
"The additional strike teams will be there to stop fires that
escape from the mine - as occurred last week - so we don't
have to divert resources from within the mine," Mr Barry
The mine operators say they are preparing for the conditions
to ensure the fire does not get out of hand.
Luc Dietvorst, head of generation at GDF Suez Australian
Energy, says it acknowledges the problem Morwell locals are
"If you have to live in that smoke it's not easy. That's why
we have a strategy in place with the fire authorities," he
Mr Dietvorst says the state government regularly audits the
company's fire prevention plan and all of its mitigation
strategies are in place.
He says once the fire is extinguished, the company will
conduct its own probe and take part in any inquiry.
"We have nothing to hide and will go through with any inquiry
that is required from us," he said.
Meanwhile, Scouts Victoria have offered Morwell residents who
want a break from the smoke temporary accommodation at
campsites across Victoria.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, who visited Morwell on
Monday, announced a $2 million assistance package for small
businesses adversely affected by the coal mine fire.
Grants of between $1000 and $10,000 will be available to
small businesses, along with a low-interest loan scheme of up
to $200,000, Dr Napthine announced.
He said the funding would be provided by the Victorian
government and it was also seeking federal government funding
on top of that.
"When I have visited small businesses in Morwell one of the
things they have emphasised to me, whether they are the local
coffee shop, the local hair dresser ... their turn over has
gone down significantly," he said.