HUNTLY residents fear fuel loads in the Bendigo Creek could pose a risk, with the captain of the fire brigade warning parts would "burn well".
Residents demanded answers from authorities responsible for managing the creek and its surrounds at a community meeting this week.
A 140-hectare fire threatened homes and burnt through land beside the creek on January 4.
This week's meeting was an opportunity for residents to learn more about fire preparedness. It also became a space for people to raise questions, some of which reflected long-running concerns about how the reserve was being managed.
"The roof nearly lifted off the building when they brought up the creek," Huntly resident Barry Quigley said.
He and wife Ann have called the community home for nearly 20 years.
Mrs Quigley said the state of the creek and the surrounding reserve had been "a big issue the whole time we've been here... nothing gets done."
She said the meeting's attendees received unsatisfactory answers to questions about fuel reduction.
Lindsay Sargeant said Parks Victoria's management of the area was "a disgrace".
He said he had been contacting the organisation for years about what he believed to be high fuel loads, including long grasses and fallen trees.
"You just get frustrated at the inaction," Mr Sargeant said.
All he said he wanted was for Parks Victoria to manage the area, "and manage it properly".
Garry Mountjoy had also been inquiring about fuel reduction at the reserve.
He used to have a licence to use the land for strategic grazing for his sheep.
That was at least 10 years ago. Mr Mountjoy said it appeared nothing had since been done to reduce fuel in the creek and its surrounds.
"It would be nowhere near as big a fire risk if it had stock in there," he said.
He said he had no issue with the area remaining open for public use, but the vegetation had to be "kept down".
Asked about the community's concerns, Huntly Fire Brigade captain Tony Jackson said there were some areas of the creek in which the grass load was "reasonably high".
"In places, it'll burn well," he said.
He said the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning did do some fuel reduction, "as far as slashing in part of the creek".
But that did not extend the length of the creek.
"There are many ways of keeping the fuel load down, and grazing's one of them,' Mr Jackson said.
He said the brigade's stance on fuel reduction was to strike a balance between the lowest possible fuel load, and the least harmful impact on the environment.
"The less fuel there is, the less intense the fire is," Mr Jackson said.
The 140-hectare fire on January 4 was sparked by a tree bringing down power lines, as a result of a wind change.
Energy Safe Victoria is believed to have visited the scene and found the trees were within guidelines.
Forty CFA tankers, 15 CFA support and 25 Forest Fire Management Victoria units attended the scene, bringing the fire under control within about three hours.
Much of the burnt area was public land beside the Bendigo Creek.
Four landholders were affected and no structures or stock were damaged or destroyed.
Huntly residents have praised firefighters for their efforts, particularly those who had the fire come within metres of their homes.
"Full credit to the fireys, they were here so fast and there trucks were from everywhere. We cant believe how many came here as fast as they did," Tanya Fisher said in the fire's aftermath.
"They risk their lives and I can't say thank-you enough."
Both Parks Victoria and DELWP have been contacted for comment.