Experts called in as Hazelwood coal mine fire burns on

Expert fire fighting crews have been brought in from interstate to help battle the blaze burning at Hazelwood open cut coal mine.

The fire has been burning for ten days, with experts saying it could be another two weeks before it is put out completely.

Sparked by fires which gripped Victoria on February 9, the coal mine blaze has caused issues for residents in the Morwell area with smoke and ash forcing some people to relocate temporarily.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said while fire suppression strategies had been successful, it was a complex environment for firefighters to contend with, ABC reported.

Firefighters from New South Wales have been brought in to help the 200 people already trying to put out the fire.

"The fire that has spread in two parts continues to be attacked with water,” Lapsley said.

"We brought an expert panel in yesterday from New South Wales and Queensland to peer review the strategy we are applying."

He said the biggest hazard for firefighters was smoke from the smouldering coal.

"Increased carbon monoxide levels are being detected," he said.

"We could see increased temperatures in that area, and some of them measured are in excess of 150 degrees c, which means you've got significant heat buried in the ground, in the wall."

He said firefighters are being rotated on short two hour shifts as a safety precaution.

"Short shifts are critical for their well-being," he said.

"It's a critical issue that continues to challenge the suppression activity."

Meanwhile thick smoke and ash has led to some local residents leave their homes with a respite centre open to take people in.

"I've quit cigarettes and I feel like I'm going through a pack a day,"  Anne-Marie Simpson said of the smoke.

A plan to evacuate to town of Morwell has been suspended, but children will be bussed to other schools from tomorrow.

Hazelwood owner GDF Suez Australian Energy told Australian Mining the blaze was in an area some distance from its normal coal operations.

"The fire is in an old worked-out area of the mine which is a considerable distance from our current mining operations," the spokesman said.

Below is a series of photos taken by the CFA's Keith Pakenham.

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