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Australian Fires Still Burning, State Capitalís Water Supplies Now Threatened

by Gopalan on  February 16, 2009 at 11:51 AM General Health News   - G J E 4
Australian Fires Still Burning, State Capitalís Water Supplies Now Threatened
As the bushfires are still raging in parts of Victoria, Australia, there are growing fears that the state capital Melbourne's water supplies might become contaminated.
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Fire crews are hoping that mild weather conditions will allow them to establish more containment lines around the eight major fires still burning in Victoria, ABC Radio reported.

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The fires giving them the most concern are those in Melbourne's catchment areas; some of the catchments are being emptied.

Lee Miezis, a spokesman for the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, said, "We've got currently eight fires that are going. The mains ones of focus remain the Kilmore East-Murrindindi Fire Complex and the Wilsons Promontory Cathedral Range fires. We have had some activity in the Bunyip State Park, the fire however we have been able to contain that fire in the east and west flanks overnight.

John Woodland, Melbourne Water's manager of water supply operations, told Michael Edwards, "The main things we'd be concerned with is just ash and sediment run off, you know the rainfall's a bit flashier. So they're the sorts of things we're looking for and that'll be a high priority to get in there and just rehabilitate and make the catchments safe again."

Of the fires that have ravaged Victoria, many are suspected to have been deliberately lit.

Arson squad detectives will today examine a scrub fire that flared up in Melbourne's east last night.

It's part of a coordinated effort by the Victorian Police to find those responsible for the fires.

Taskforce Phoenix has been assigned 150 detectives to investigate all the fire related deaths.

Of particular suspicion is the fire which destroyed the town of Marysville.

And the first person charged over Victoria's bushfires will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today.

The man, who cannot be identified, is accused of lighting the Churchill-Jeeralang fire in the Gippsland region of Victoria, in which 21 people died.

At this stage, it's thought one of the most deadly blazes - that at Kinglake - wasn't deliberately lit.

There are claims a power line may have sparked this blaze.

And in other developments today, the Victorian Government is expected to finalise the terms of reference for the Royal Commission which will investigate the fires.

The victims of Victoria's bushfires will be remembered at a memorial service in Melbourne next Sunday on what has been declared a national day of mourning.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says February 7 will be etched in the country's memory as a day of disaster, death and mourning.

He says it is important the nation grieves and a memorial service honouring those killed or missing in the fires will provide people with that opportunity.

The service will be held at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena at 11.00am.

All state premiers have been invited to Sunday's service along with families affected by the fires.

The death toll from the bushfires, which are the worst in Australia's history, remains at 181.†

Victoria, a state, located in the southeastern corner of the country is the smallest mainland state in area but also the most densely populated and urbanised. The state is said to be one of the most bushfire prone regions in the world.



Source: Medindia
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