Bushfire threat worst since Black Saturday

Firefighter battles a blaze alone. Photo: Environment East Gippsland Facebook page
Firefighter battles a blaze alone. Photo: Environment East Gippsland Facebook page

Up to 150 fires have burnt throughout Victoria today as firefighters scrambled to combat the worst bushfire conditions since Black Saturday.

Strong winds and recent high temperatures have seen fires break out across the state.

CFA chief Craig Lapsley said many had been extinguished, but 37 fires are still burning.

The mercury has started to drop from Sunday’s maximum of 37 to 31.3 in the CBD, bringing relief from recent heatwave conditions.

The change first hit townships west of Colac, including the Grampians and Horsham, where the temperatures has already dropped to 26.9.

The change has not yet hit the state’s south-east, where dozens of serious fires are burning out-of-control.

Emergency warnings have issued for 9 regions throughout the state, including Goongerah, Riddells Creek, Sunbury, and The Gap.

The most serious threats are south-east of Melbourne, where the cool change is yet to hit.

Across the state, more than 1100 fire-fighters are working to contain the fires, with fire-fighters from New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand are on-hand to support CFA and Metropolitan Fire Brigade crews.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley issued a dire warning on Saturday, warning residents throughout the state to remain on alert and be prepared to activate their bushfire survival plan.

Prolonged heatwaves and near-record temperatures have created dangerous conditions in Victoria, and an extreme fire danger warning has been declared for six districts, including central Victoria, north-eastern Victoria and Gippsland.

Several fires have broken out on Melbourne’s fringe, including Warrandyte, where a small but out-of-control grass fire is moving fast and residents in and around Flannery Court and Tindalls Road have been told to take shelter immediately.

Horror arvo for firies in Vic. Several fires on Melb's outskirts, property destroyed @7NewsMelbourne pic.twitter.com/rrLE2NzJlI — Lynne Scrivens (@lynnescrivens) February 9, 2014

Out of control bushfire burning at #Warrandyte, it is travelling south. http://t.co/m2GxuXOrtq #9News pic.twitter.com/ya7fwKpxf0 — Nine News Melbourne (@9newsmelb) February 9, 2014

Aerial shot of the fire burning in #Warrandyte. An emergency warning is in place for the region. #9News pic.twitter.com/ebhYUYRapD — Nine News Melbourne (@9newsmelb) February 9, 2014

Towns in the state’s south-east under threat from bushfires will not receive any relief from the weather until the late afternoon.

Mr Carlyon said strong northerly winds were picking up in West Gippsland and the La Trobe Valley.

Mr Carlyon said no rain is forecast today and the change would be ‘dry’ and ‘gusty’.

Although Victorians experienced very warm temperatures overnight, Mr Carlyon said it did not break any records, especially in Melbourne.

‘‘We had an overnight low of 24.9 just after midnight, and after that, the temperature was back to 32 at 3am, and it’s been in the the low 30s ever since,’’ he said.

Mr Carlyon said despite cooler conditions hitting Gippsland overnight, the region warmed up significantly by 9am on Sunday, with the mercury rising to the mid-30s by in Sale and Bairnsdale.

Strong northerly winds will sweep though the area until the midday cool change, where gusty south-easterly winds will create extremely dangerous conditions for firefighters.

As temperatures in parts of Melbourne peaked at 41.9 degrees on Saturday, Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the state faced a ‘‘very serious’’ threat throughout Sunday.

‘‘Anywhere in Victoria, fires will run and run hard,’’ he said.

‘‘The fire intensity will be furious, it will be fast, it will be out of control and people need to be very aware of that."

He urged all Victorians, especially those in extreme fire danger areas, to make sure their bushfire plan was ready to be activated at a moment’s notice.

RT @bendigoweekly Maiden Gully fire pic.twitter.com/36OfalJBoQ@cfa_updates#vicfires — Martin Anderson (@krjmanderson) February 9, 2014

Maiden Gully fire is said to be contained but smoke will still be visible. @bendigoweeklypic.twitter.com/jjBNK4MGf1 — wonkydogman2 (@wonkydogman2) February 9, 2014

This story Bushfire threat worst since Black Saturday first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.