Victorians are being urged to remember the legacy of Black Saturday and be prepared for more dangerous fire conditions this weekend.
As Victoria marked the fifth anniversary of the devastating Black Saturday fires on Friday, authorities announced Saturday and Sunday have been declared days of total fire ban.
Fire crews are on high alert with temperatures in the 40s forecast for Saturday and extreme fire conditions predicted in some areas.
A change is expected on Sunday for much of the state, but it will bring strong winds.
Ten fires already burning in Gippsland are the biggest concern for authorities, with Victoria’s 1290 fire stations on high alert.
Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells urged people to be prepared.
“We must ensure the lessons learnt from Black Saturday are implemented to make sure Victorians are safe during an emergency,” he told reporters at the State Control Centre.
“There is nothing more important than the preservation of life.”
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said after several weeks of hot weather, Victoria was now dry and a fire would run anywhere in the state, including urban areas.
He said while conditions were not a severe as Black Saturday, this was the most serious fire threat this year.
“Different from Black Saturday, but that’s not to say we can’t see significant fires having impacts on communities, threatening people and certainly cause injury and possibly death,” Mr Lapsley said.
People in Gippsland communities where fires have been burning for several weeks, were warned and prepared for the threat of fire, he said.
“We will see quite large areas burnt potentially over this weekend in East Gippsland,” Mr Lapsley said.
“We have contingency plans in place, but our ability to control them in the types of bush is extremely difficult. It is dry.”