Extreme Fire Warnings as Southern Heatwave Continues

‘The fire threat is far from over.’
Extreme Fire Warnings as Southern Heatwave Continues
Country Fire Authority (CFA) staff monitor a giant fire raging in the Bunyip State Park, some 125 kilometres west of Melbourne, Australia on Feb. 7, 2009. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)
Victoria’s emergency services are preparing for more perilous weather conditions, a week after bushfires and storms razed properties and left half a million homes and businesses in the dark.

Temperatures are expected to top 40 degrees in parts of the state, with storms bringing 80km/h winds and dry lightning into the afternoon.

Extreme fire warnings have been also issued in SA, Tasmania and WA, where emergency services have been fighting blazes since early summer.

Total fire bans have been declared for six Victorian regions, with the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North Central, South West and Central districts all facing an extreme fire danger rating.

“Last Tuesday’s conditions represented the worst fire risk day Victoria had experienced since the 2019/20 fire season,” CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said in a statement.

“The fire threat is far from over.”

Tasmania Fire Service has initiated a Hot Day Response across the state, and a total fire ban in southern Tasmania.

WA has total fire bans in place for multiple regions, and SA’s Country Fire Service has declared an extreme fire risk in the Eastern Eyre Peninsula, the Mid North and the Murraylands.

Last week’s bushfires in the Grampians National Park in western Victoria destroyed 46 properties and razed more than 6000ha of bush and farmland.

In the east, wind gusts of up to 130km/h levelled major power lines and transmission infrastructure, cutting power to 530,000 homes and businesses and leaving 37 homes uninhabitable.

More than 1000 customers were still without electricity on Feb. 21 but were expected to be reconnected by Feb. 22.

Victoria’s State Emergency Service chief officer Tim Wiebusch warned people to be aware of of further falling branches and avoid unnecessary travel in strong winds.

“Tie down loose outdoor items including outdoor furniture and trampolines and park your car undercover or away from trees,” Mr. Wiebusch said in a statement.

Victoria’s SES has responded to more than 5700 requests for assistance since February 13.

Emergency Management Commissioner Rick Nugent praised emergency services, volunteers and repair crews for their work so far, and urged Victorians to be aware of the multiple weather threats.

“As Victoria faces another hot day on Thursday (Feb. 22), please look after yourself,” Mr. Nugent said.

“Keep up to date with warnings, and be mindful of elevated risks.”