News National Massive Victorian fire continues to menace tourist region

Massive Victorian fire continues to menace tourist region

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A monstrous Victorian bushfire that has killed a woman and is creating its own weather continues to menace towns in a popular tourist region.

The Grampians blaze has burnt through 41,000 hectares and is the chief concern for firefighters as a blustery wind change played havoc with fire conditions.

Several hundred firefighters worked across Friday night and Saturday morning to protect Halls Gap and the surrounding areas of Ledcourt, Dadswells Bridge and Grampians Junction from the bushfire.

The fire has already claimed the life of a woman, who was found dead at her Roses Gap property on Friday morning, while at least two homes have been destroyed at Wartook.

A spokeswoman from the State Control Centre said conditions were incredibly difficult for the 621 firefighters in the area.

“The fire has caused a convection column which is creating its own weather – so lightning strikes and very erratic winds,” she told AAP.

“The surrounding winds have also changed, so it’s quite unpredictable.”

Tourists and residents fled Halls Gap and the northern Grampians on Friday after an evacuation notice was issued.

In the state’s eastern corner, residents of Club Terrace, near Orbost, anxiously awaited the progress of a bushfire burning to the town’s north.

Authorities say a series of 25 fires sparked by lightning in east Gippsland were merging to create a single, massive bushfire which could grow to half a million hectares in size.

Fires have burnt through more than 40,000 hectares in the Mallee region and are expected to continue through the weekend.

While most of the state was cooled by the southwesterly change, conditions in the state’s northeast will still be extremely hot on Saturday, with the temperature forecast to reach 40C at Wangaratta and 42C at Wodonga.

A total fire ban has been declared for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North East, East Gippsland and West and South Gippsland fire districts on Saturday.

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