Mount Gambier Council will begin a damage and hazard assessment at Crater Lakes, following a fire on the western side of the precinct that blackened approximately 50 hectares of grass, scrub and vegetation.

The area remains closed until further notice to ensure public safety and to enable ongoing fire monitoring.

Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS), SA Country Fire Service (CFS), Forestry SA and National Parks and Wildlife firefighters contained the fire on Wednesday 26 January 2022.

However, the Valley Lakes precinct, Centenary Tower, sections of the Carinya Gardens Cemetery, Potters Point, Marist Park and all associated Crater Lakes walking trails remain closed.

City of Mount Gambier CEO, Sarah Philpott, said, “The MFS is asking the public not to visit these areas as the fire is expected to continue to smoulder for up to another week. 

“Burning trees, falling trees and smouldering ground vegetation pose a significant risk to the public. Please adhere to requests to stay away.

“Funerals will recommence at Carinya Gardens Cemetery on Saturday and people are currently permitted to visit grave sites. We ask that all those who visit the cemetery adhere to the signage and keep well away from areas affected by the fire.

“Upon our first assessment, people might be interested to know that the animals within the Conservation Park at the Valley Lakes were unharmed during the fire. Along with other assessments, we will keep an eye on their welfare.”

The MFS will continue to monitor the area in the coming days to extinguish smouldering vegetation where required.

Road access to Grant Avenue has resumed, with a temporary speed limit of 25km per hour in place.

“Please take care and be aware of any birds and wildlife in the area as you travel along Grant Avenue,” Ms Philpott said.

Council will now begin the damage and risk assessment process in the area to develop a plan for recovery.

“We are developing our assessment approach and will draw on assistance from the Limestone Coast Landscape Management Board, National Parks and Wildlife and the MFS as we undertake a thorough assessment of the Crater Lakes area in the coming weeks,” Ms Philpott said.

“In the meantime, we urge people to stay away from the walking/bike trail paths at this point. Signage will soon go up on the trails to alert people to the ongoing danger due to the fire. 

“Please abide by the signage and find another walking/bike route until we can ensure the area is safe for public use once again.

“As we have mentioned previously, when we have an idea of the recovery work that is required, there will be a phased reopening of the space and we will keep the community informed as soon as we know more.”

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