GIPPSLAND farmers are taking measures to protect stock in preparation for predicted fire threat.At least 222 cattle, six sheep and 11 horses and donkeys died in the last week's fire, which ripped through the settlements of Seaton, Dawson and Glenmaggie.
The Aberfeldy-Donnellys fire was still burning within the containment lines in remote Gippsland bushland, but the CFA expected it to breakout later tonight.
And strong northerly winds have whipped up to fan the fire earlier than expected.
Authorities have urged residents in Erica, Rawson, Walhalla, Heyfield, Stratford, Briagolong, Maffra, Glengarry, Toongabbie, Coongulla, Newry and surrounding areas to prepare for the fire.
CFA Stratford Captain and sheep farmer Mike Sears said he had ploughed up areas on his home property and further blocks at Munro and Perry Bridge to protect his stock.
“We are ploughing up around the dams where we know the sheep like to camp, we hope if the fire comes they have protection,” Mr Sears said.
He said he would also ‘box’ the Dorper sheep up by combining mobs to make it easier to move them if required.
“I couldn’t sleep or do anything if I knew I hadn’t tried to protect the animals,” Mr Sears said.
He was running sprinklers near his house drawn from a 6 megalitres dam on the property which was powered by a diesel generator, which would continue even if the electricity failed.
“I’ve ploughed the paddock up near the house to slow things down (and) we put sprinklers on the Northern side of the house,” he said.
Nearby Merino Briagolong producer Peter Young was moving as many of his 3000 head of sheep close to his shearing shed.
“I will get as many as I can into the sheep yard, I have my ute with a fire fighting unit (on the back) so I can defend this one area,” Mr Young said.
“My house and my livelihood are the most important things to me.”
The 40-year CFA veteran said he was not just worried about the immediate threat of fire, but also what might happen in coming weeks.
“I’m not that worried about this week, but if they don’t get it contained next week may be the major threat.
“But you’d be silly not to prepare for it.”
Briagolong Merino producer Peter Young with the sheep he had moved to protect them from the fire conditions.