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Tuesday's (Feb 1-2) fires east of Nowa Nowa has closed the rail trail from Jonson Road to past Partellis Crossing.

The most serious and long lasting loss has been the total destruction of the historic timber bridge at Hospital Creek. On that section there are now many trees down on the trail pathway and others which will need to be removed to ensure the safety of visitors. The fire started as a small local grass fire but in 42 degree heat and a gale force NW wind it quickly engulfed a large area.

Speaking on Thursday after posting closure notices at several access points on the Trail, committee chairperson Michael Oxer said that it could be several weeks before assistance can be organised to clear and remove fallen timber and repair some sections of pathway which were damaged by essential heavy machinery movement during the fight to contain the fire.

'We are very saddened at the loss of this bridge because it was one of the very few artefacts from the time of the former railway that we still had as tourist attractions on the Nowa Nowa to Orbost section.' Mr Oxer said. 'The fire has also come at a very bad time during a period when there are visitors from outside the region who come to ride or walk the trail while also spending other time at nearby coastal and high country attractions.' he added.

A toilet facility recently installed by DSE at Partellis Crossing was also burnt to the ground but a nearby picnic table and seats set escaped the inferno. A visitor counter instrument was also lost when fire swept through the Hospital Creek area.

As a short term measure anyone wanting to travel the length of the Trail will need to use the Princes Highway to bypass the closed section.

The volunteer management committee hopes to clear debris quickly to allow access. Meanwhile update notices will be posted on the Trail web site at www.eastgippslandrailtrail.com.

Click here for the East Gippsland Rail Trail Description.