Bendigo firefighters head to Wimmera blaze

BUSLOADS of CFA volunteers have left Bendigo to tackle a major bushfire in the Mallee region. 

About 50 volunteers from across central Victoria travelled to Yaapeet, near Hopetoun on Saturday to assist with firefighting efforts.

The group will relieve fatigued volunteers and set up strike force teams.

See the latest updates from the Grampians Fire by Wimmera Mail Times reporters.

The fires have burnt for several days and turned deadly on Friday, claiming a woman's life in Roses Gap, in the Grampians.

Eaglehawk CFA volunteer Ben Lee said it would be a tough firefighting campaign.

The secondary school teacher got the call Friday asking if he could join the strike team.

"When you see a fire of this sort of size you want to help out'" he said.

"There's still a lot of work to be done over there."

Mr Lee said the crews were expecting to take on a number of tasks over the four days, including front-line fire fighting and blacking out. 

Kangaroo Flat CFA volunteer George Pantazis will head up one strike team. He said after 30 years experience in the CFA it was still difficult to predict how a fire would act.

"We'll just do whatever we can do, hopefully we can make a difference," he said.

"It's been pretty devastating to see some of the developments of the fire.

"We'll be trying to minimise the impact. It's always hard to try and fight mother nature." 

Marong CFA volunteer Mark McKeown will assist in leading the strike team and said they were keen to give local crews a much-needed break.

"They've been on their feet for days," he said. "They've done a terrific job. Many of them have had to protect their own properties. 

"Hopefully we can make a few saves, whether that's people or properties or livestock."

Eppalock group officer David Cleator praised the commitment of the 50 men and women who volunteered to travel to the Wimmera region. He said many more had put their hands up to go, and may be needed in a second batch of firefighters.

"Most of these guys have been working tirelessly the past few days with smaller fires around here," he said.

"It's an impressive response to see their dedication and selflessness and the amount of work they've put in over the past few weeks, particularly."

He said he was also thankful for the employers of the volunteers for allowing them time off.

The crews will return to Bendigo on Tuesday.

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