News National Wonthaggi blaze controlled
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Wonthaggi blaze controlled

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A fire burning near seaside towns in Victoria has been brought under control.

The CFA has downgraded an emergency warning to a watch and act message for Cape Paterson, Harmers Haven and Wonthaggi.

Firefighters have stopped the spread of the grassfire in the Wonthaggi area at Tank Hill, near Longwall Court.

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“While the immediate threat has passed, leaving now is the safest option, as conditions may change again suddenly,” the CFA says.

Residents are reminded to stay vigilant and monitor conditions.

Wonthaggi resident Susan Howard could see smoke from her home but said it was moving away from the town.

“It’s smokey but the fire looks to be moving away from the main town,” Ms Howard told AAP on Saturday.

CFA spokesman Graeme Baxter says winds are picking up across the state and a severe thunderstorm warning for later in the day will bring lightning with very little rain.

“The anxiety around that is that we will actually have lightning strikes which may ignite other fires so it’s important that other people follow the total fire bans we have across the state,” Mr Baxter told ABC News 24.

“We’ve still got some pretty turbulent fire conditions ahead of us.”

Meanwhile, the Country Fire Authority has contained a fire in the Epping area.

Crews struggle with fires in Epping (above) and Dandenong Ranges.
Crews struggled with fires in Epping (above) and Dandenong Ranges.

Residents had earlier been warned to enact their fire plans.

The Hume Freeway, also known as the Cragieburn Bypass, and Cooper Street were closed due to the fire.

Dangerous fire conditions are set to worsen across Victoria and South Australia today, as temperatures are forecast to soar into the 40s.

Wind and possible lightning strikes have prompted total fire bans in large areas of SA and Victoria, while high temperatures in New South Wales and Tasmania have firefighters on alert.

“In Victoria, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has issued an extreme fire danger weather warning for Wimmera, North Central, South West and Central districts.

A severe fire danger warning has also been issued for Mallee, Northern Country, North East and West and South Gippsland districts.

Thousands of rural and metropolitan firefighters have been placed on the highest state of alert, to tackle any blazes early.

It is only the third time on record Melbourne has sweltered through four consecutive days above 35 degrees Celsius.

BoM’s Dean Stewart said a cool change was not expected for Victoria until Sunday afternoon.

“With that change arriving at that time it’s still going to get up to around 37C before that change arrives but it will drop fairly rapidly when that change moves through,” Mr Stewart said.

“Whereas out in eastern Victoria where it will arrive later, temperatures are still expected to get into the 40s up in the north-east of the state, probably even over parts of Gippsland.”

BoM warned of “very hot” conditions in South Australia with showers and gusty thunderstorms expected to develop later in the day.

An extreme fire danger has been forecast for the West Coast, Lower Eyre Peninsula, Mid North, Mount Lofty Ranges, Yorke Peninsula and Lower South East.

A severe fire danger warning has been issued for North West Pastoral, North East Pastoral, Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Flinders, Adelaide Metropolitan, Kangaroo Island, Riverland, Murraylands and Upper South East districts.

BoM said an extremely hot air mass was the cause of Adelaide’s record-breaking December heatwave, with a fourth consecutive day over 40 degrees Celsius expected.

Firefighters in other states are also on high alert, with isolated areas in Western Australia and New South Wales expected to see temperatures in the 40s today.

A high pressure system over the Tasman Sea is directing hot winds across New South Wales.

The NSW towns of Menindee, Wentworth and Lake Mungo are forecast to hit 43C, while Hay, Deniliquin and Broken Hill should reach 41. Sydney will be cooler, with a top of 30 degrees.

Parts of Tasmania are expected to reach the high 30s, with the maximum at 38C in Ouse and 36C in Ross.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has agreed to send out air tankers to support the SA Country Fire Service.

Crews are working to prevent a bushfire in Canberra’s far south from crossing the border and heading closer to towns in NSW.

The Mount Clear fire has been burning in remote bushland for several days but firefighters said there was very little activity overnight.

Fire crews will continue their work establishing containment lines ahead of a predicted worsening of weather conditions on Sunday.

Since the heatwave struck, 31 people in SA have sought hospital treatment for heat-related illnesses.

A builder was taken to hospital yesterday while a 17-year-old apprentice remains in hospital after collapsing at work on Wednesday.

Authorities have warned people to look out for those who may be particularly vulnerable to the higher temperatures.

“Check on your neighbours, particularly the elderly and very young and just make sure they’re well hydrated and they’re in a cool environment,” BoM forecaster Olenka Duma said.

 

Top temps around the country:

  • WA: 47C in Marble Bar
  • SA: 45C in Port Augusta
  • VIC: 44C in Ouyen and Birchip
  • NSW: 43C in Wentworth, Lake Mungo and Menindee
  • ACT: 36C in Canberra
  • QLD: 40C in Thargomindah
  • NT: 40C in Finke
  • TAS: 38C in Ouse

Source: BoM. Temperatures are maximum forecast.

– AAP, ABC