News National Victorian fires rage on worst day in five years

Victorian fires rage on worst day in five years

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Residents in the small Victorian community of Goongerah under threat from an out-of-control bushfire have been told it is too late to leave, as the state endures its worst fire conditions since Black Saturday.

Two emergency warnings are current for Victoria’s Gippsland region as blazes rage near Goongerah and Buchan, Buchan South and Sunny Point.

The CFA says conditions haven’t been this dangerous since the 2009 season.

Residents still in Goongerah have been told to seek shelter inside.

“You are in danger, act now to protect yourself,” the CFA website says.

“It is too late to leave.”

Nick Talbot from the State Control Centre said he didn’t know how many of the community’s 60 residents remained after the CFA issued a warning to evacuate on Saturday.

“Some of them did leave when we issued the warning,” Mr Talbot told AAP.

“Obviously some didn’t.”

Residents in Buchan, Buchan South and Sunny Point have been told to leave now.

“Conditions may change and get worse very quickly,” the CFA warning says.

“Emergency Services may not be able to help you if you decide to stay.”

Tony Bearzatto from the CFA told the ABC spot fires and embers in the area were now creating conditions where it was becoming too dangerous to leave but it was not too late for residents to make a plan.

“Make a plan and activate it quickly. Don’t stand around and wait for the fire to arrive,” Mr Bearzatto said.

He urged residents to stay informed.

A total fire ban has been issued for the entire state with Victoria’s central and eastern regions being declared at extreme fire danger risk – one level below code red (catastrophic).

A watch-and-act notice is current for a third blaze that started in Gladysdale, east of Melbourne.

Residents in Basan Corner and St Benedicts have been told to leave now as conditions may change.

The CFA said there were about 30 vehicles as well as aircraft battling the blaze, which started as a grass and scrub fire.

On Saturday, Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said Sunday’s hot weather was going to be further bolstered by a strong and gusty Sunday afternoon wind change.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster for regional Victoria Stuart Coombs said the Gippsland region would experience high temperatures and strong winds of up to 90km/h before the change.

“Obviously very, very difficult conditions for firefighters,” Mr Coombs told AAP.

Some of the highest temperatures in the state would be near the fire sites, he warned.

Lakes Entrance and Orbost, in Gippsland, are expected to reach the 40s.

He said there was minimal chance of rain.

Forecast thunderstorms are now not expected, meaning a reduced risk of lightning sparking new blazes.

“If we had lightning that would be of a concern,” Mr Coombs said.

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