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Residents return to fire affected communities on the surf coast

3 January 2016

Residents of some fire affected communities on Victoria’s Surf Coast have begun returning to their homes today.

A community meeting of around 200 people at Apollo Bay heard risk assessments of properties in southern parts of Wye River had been favourable.

Deputy Incident Controller Jon Rofe told the meeting people living or owning properties in McRae Road, Morley Avenue, 1-35 Great Ocean Road, Sturt Court and both caravan parks could return this afternoon.

“Along with controlling the fire, getting residents and land owners back has been a high priority,” Mr Rofe said.

“We hope that we’ll have more good news for communities in the northern part of Wye River and Separation Creek in the next 24 hours.”

Visitors who were evacuated during the Christmas Day fire will also be allowed to retrieve caravans and camping gear from the caravan park and holiday rentals homes.

Residents able to return must present their ID to receive a wristband either at the community meeting this morning or at the Community Recovery Information Centre at the Colac Otway Shire Office in Apollo Bay 69 Nelson St (open today from 10-4pm and Monday to Friday from 10-4pm) to gain access at the traffic management point in Wongarra. 

Mr Rofe said it would be some days before the Great Ocean Road could be opened to the public.

“It’s important not to forget we are still battling an active fire just to the north of these communities and allowing an influx of visitors is just  too risky right now.”

Mr Rofe urged those returning to stay vigilant and monitor conditions and warnings despite the more benign weather over coming days.

He said the fire was not expected to be extinguished until heavy rainfall, possibly in Autumn.

“Stay informed, monitor, the FireReady app and emergency broadcasters.”

At Lorne, hundreds of holiday makers were expected to attend the Fire Relief Concert on the Lorne Foreshore next to the Surf Life Saving Club with all proceeds go toward the Great Ocean Road Fire Relief.

Recovery efforts were also in full swing to ensure communities could return to something resembling normal life as quickly as possible.

Colac Otway Shire, Department of Health and Human Services, EPA and raft of other agencies were continuing to assess risks and plan for the huge clean up.

Those unable to access a radio broadcast of the meeting can listen to a podcast at