Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shepparton councillor concerned about potential blaze

City of Greater Shepparton councillor Dennis Patterson is worried about the potential for fire in bushland near Peter Ross Edward Causeway.

JARROD WHITTAKER February 17, 2014 4:35am

A fire in bushland near Peter Ross Edwards causeway could result in a loss of lives with vehicles unable to escape, a Shepparton councillor says.

City of Greater Shepparton Deputy Mayor Dennis Patterson said he was concerned about the potential for fire because of high fuel loads near the Goulburn River.

‘‘We’ll have a fire at the causeway coming at us with the speed of the wind,’’ Cr Patterson said. ‘‘The worst part is for anyone stuck on the causeway, you’ve got nowhere to go.

‘‘People will be trying to do U-turns, people will be running up the back of people — it’ll be a disaster.’’

He said the closure of the causeway would separate Shepparton and Mooroopna.

‘‘Fire brigades won’t be able to get across the causeway — whatever support you’ve got in your town is what you’ve got,’’ Cr Patterson said.

‘‘It’s got the potential to be a disaster.’’

In November last year Cr Patterson put forward a motion asking for the Victorian and Federal governments to conduct fire mitigation in the area.

The motion originally asked for an investigation into grazing to lower fuel loads in Lower Goulburn National Park and Shepparton Regional Park.

It was amended to remove the grazing reference and allow other options to be looked at before being endorsed.

He said fire mitigation had not been carried out in recent years.

‘‘If you go back 40000 years Aboriginals have traditionally burnt it and the past 200 years Europeans have traditionally grazed it,’’ Cr Patterson said.

He said it was not a matter of ‘‘if, but when’’ a bushfire hit the area.

‘‘Something’s got to be done, controlled burns are very limited to when they can do it,’’ Cr Patterson said.

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