PRE-SEASON training took on a whole-new meaning for Gippsland Power players yesterday when they were airlifted off Mt Feathertop.
The TAC Cup side was enjoying a high-altitude camp when the high country fires burnt to within 100m of the group.
Players and officials had reached the top of the 22km Razorback Trail when the fire advanced quicker than earlier expected.
With staff in close contact with emergency authorities, the decision was made to evacuate to Hotham Village, 15 people at a time, via helicopter.
Power talent manager Peter Frances said when the fire starting spotting close to the group they opted to activate their emergency fire plan.
"When got closer to the top we noticed smoke to our left.... and the fire was advancing quite quickly," he said.
"A emergency services helicopter was there in minutes but had a little trouble trying to land where we were.
"At no time did we feel in real danger but when we were forced to walk back into the face of the fire so the bigger helicopter could land, it was certainly pretty scary," Frances said.
"We got all the boys (players) out on the first two trips and when it was just us old blokes left, the fire was getting pretty close."
Frances said the young players handled the situation well.
"We had a few boys who were quite concerned but overall they were fantastic and did what they were told."
"The emergency services and Hotham Management were just fantastic throughout the whole thing."
It's unknown if the groups' day packs - which were left half-way up the ridge - still remain or were swamped by the fire.
With an emergency warning in affect for Mt Hotham, the group opted to conclude their camp and returned to Morwell last night.