Melbourne Cool Summer Music Festival Cancelled as Bushfire Rages in Victoria

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 11, 2013 4:48 PM EST

Organizers of the annual 'Cool Summer' music festival have been forced to cancel the event as bushfires continue in Victoria, particularly in the area around Mt Hotham where the local music festival was supposed to be held.

In a statement on its Web site, http://coolsummerfestival.com/, organizers explained it would be risky to go on with the music revelry on the fire ravaged mountain.

The Harrietville blaze has been burning for weeks. It has consumed 22,315 hectares and is still growing. Locals have been warned to remain vigilant and follow their bushfire plans as back-burning is expected to continue.

The large but slow-moving blaze in Victoria's northeast is expected to balloon on Monday afternoon.

Northeast Victoria temperatures are forecast to teeter in the low to mid-30s all week. But temperatures in the Macedon, Melbourne and eastern parts of the state could rise from the high 20s early in the week and into the 30s over the weekend.

With no rain forecast coupled with the fact that the state is very dry, threats of fire are very high. In fact, several have broken out in recent days across the state.

"(Those fires) tell us we don't need to see 45-degree temperatures and winds howling down from the northwest to have fires that really do threaten communities and cause concern, so I think that's continuing for the next few weeks," Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley was quoted by News Limited.

"The government run Department of Sustainability and Environment has recommended that all upcoming events and activities in the area around Hotham are to be cancelled and all roads to the area are closed and unlikely to open for some time," the organisers said in their statement.

Although contingency plans to transfer the event to a different site was thought of, the actual movement of logistics and people made it an unappetizing proposition.

"Over the last two days, the Cool Summer Crew have been working around the clock to try and implement a contingency plan, which would involve relocating the festival off the mountain. Despite all our efforts, this will not be possible due to the number of legal requirements and safety measures that would need to be in place."

The Festival was supposed to feature 21 bands including the four-sister band Stonefield, triple J Unearthed favourite Loon Lake and Melbourne duo Dune.

Confirmed ticket holders will be refunded, and the festival will return in 2014.

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