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Victorian bushfires: Devastate Wye River and Separation Creek

On Christmas day about 116 houses were destroyed in fires that engulf the small holiday hamlets of Wye River and Separation Creek in Southern Australasia.

The threat of the 2700-hectare fire has eased given the cooler conditions and light rain, but the blaze, burning on its western edge in bush inland and north of Kennett River, is still out of control. Firefighters remain on high alert, with the fire expected to burn for months and high fire danger days yet to come.

Many residents are now returning to assess the damage to their property, it was a miracle no lives were lost many are saying, others are thanking the hard work done by firefighters who, at this time are being relieved by firefighters from interstate and New Zealand.

About 150 people attended Sunday’s meeting, which was run by Colac Otway Shire and also attended by representatives from emergency, environment and health services.

Most were happy about the response from authorities, with one Separation Creek resident’s public thanks to them met with applause.

But, a number of concerns were raised, including mixed messages coming from authorities, contamination to tank water from asbestos and waste removal given the stench from rotting food and damaged septic tanks.

It will be some time before normality returns to this community, which will be keeping an eye on the still smouldering fire.

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Neil Bibby was Chief Executive Officer of the Country Fire Authority between 2002 and 2009 and Managing Director People and Innovation