More than 150 horses have taken over the pens at the Bairnsdaleʼs East Gippsland Livestock Exchange, with ponies and Thoroughbreds, stockhorses taking refuge from the threat of fire.
From 4pm on Sunday when council opened the relief centre at Bairnsdale City Oval, residents in watch and act zones began bringing in their animals, including sheep and goats.
At Tambo Upper, resident Julie Hammond said conditions had worsened on Sunday.
“If the wind had picked up we were worried we wouldn”t have been able to get out,” Ms Hammond said.
They dropped the horses off and went home.
“We packed everything, we’ve cleaned up everything, we have water carts ready, probably the same as everyone else,” she said.
“It’s scary because the fires are joining up, and it’s so dry.”
“It’s great we have this facility and we have a wonderful community around here.
“Facebook has been a wonderful means of communication.”
A load of cattle from Clifton Creek were also delivered to the saleyards, and there is a line of floats and trucks in the carpark.
Robyn Tanner lives just a kilometre from the Colquhoun Forest at Lakes Entrance and on Sunday brought her niece’s horse ‘Al’, a 13-year-old dressage horse in, as well as a few others of friends.
“They’ll be cooler and safer here,” Ms Tanner said.
“What we were worried about was transport, being able to get through, we decided to act while we could, better to be safe than sorry.
“We only need a lightning strike in the forest - we’re not feeling too safe.
“This is an amazing facility, we can’t thank them enough to have opened it free of charge.”
When asked if she was coping, Ms Tanner said no.
“No, I’m not coping, it’s very stressful,” she said.
Relief centres are also open at the Omeo Recreation Reserve, Park Street, Omeo, the Mechanics Hall in Lakes Entrance and the Delegate Golf Club, Delegate.
At Bairnsdale, some residents have also set up camp on the grassy areas of the football grounds, although people have been encouraged to consider staying with friends and family first.
IMAGE: Julie Hammond, of Tambo Upper, brought Major, Stinky, Finn and Charlie to the Bairnsdale saleyards on Sunday. K1652-1992