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Vic: Brumby describes bushfires as "devastating"

08 Feb 2009 12:27 AM

MELBOURNE, Feb 7 AAP - Victorian Premier John Brumby has described the ferocious bushfires that killed 14 people, injured many more and ravaged much of the state on Saturday as "the worst day in our history".

Mr Brumby said the conditions that set the scene for the tragedy - a record temperature and searing northerly winds - were even worse than expected.

"We all said on Friday that Saturday was going to be the worst day in our history and it was an horrific day - even worse than predicted," Mr Brumby told ABC radio from the staging post at Bendigo, where he has a farm.

He spent Saturday at his farm in Harcourt activating his own fire plan to protect his property.

His parents' home at Coleraine, in the state's west, came within metres of destruction before firefighters got on top of the blaze.

"It's been a devastating day and there have been some casualties and unfortunately we are going to see more casualties tomorrow," Mr Brumby told the ABC.

He said more than 400 fires broke out across the state during the day and many were impossible to control.

"The firefighters were hit early and hit hard and the fires were impossible to control - it was worse than Ash Wednesday and Black Friday," he said.

He thanked the firefighters from the Department of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE), the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the State Emergency Services (SES) for their efforts in protecting people and property.

"I would like to particularly thank those firefighters who helped save my parents' property from the fire at Coleraine which they stopped literally on their doorstop," he said.

"My thoughts are with the firefighters while they continue fighting these fires," he said.

Mr Brumby will be at the Kinglake staging post on Sunday to see first hand the damage caused by the fire.