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DELWP Chief Fire Officer responds to claims no back-burning was done in Bunyip

The Chief Fire Officer from the Department of Envrionment, Land, Water and Planning has responded to claims no back-burning was done around Tonimbuk which could have reduced the severity of the blaze over the weekend.

Yesterday Neil Mitchell spoke with Andrew Clarke, whose property, the Jinks Creek Winery at Tonimbuk was destroyed on Sunday.

“I’ve been trying to get them to burn off the back of my place for nearly 20 years,” Andrew said.

“I rang them in spring (last year) and said, ‘You’ve just got to get in there and do it before this summer’ and they said, ‘No we can’t because authorities are worried about the fledgling birds’.”

Chief Fire Officer of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Chris Hardman told Neil Andrew’s claims weren’t correct.

“We burnt in 2008, 2012, 2016, and a small one in 2018 in the Bunyip State Park,” Mr Hardman said.

“We wait for the burn window to be right, there’s just enough moisture in the fuel, there’s just enough warm weather and it’s not too windy.”

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Premier Daniel Andrews also responded, saying the fires were so fierce, previous back burns did not slow it down.