News National Kangaroo Island residents told to leave as Victoria extends state of emergency
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Kangaroo Island residents told to leave as Victoria extends state of emergency

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Victoria and NSW are facing yet another dangerous fire day. Photo: Twitter/David Kuch
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Residents of the Kangaroo Island townships of Vivonne Bay and Cygnet River have been told to leave after the Country Fire Service advised a major fire had broken containment lines.

“This fire may pose a threat to lives directly in its path,” the CFS told residents in both fire zones Thursday afternoon.

“Act now. Leave, if the path is clear to a safer place, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive,” it said.

“If you cannot leave, identify where you will seek shelter from the bushfire. Heat from the fire will kill you. Do not enter this area as conditions are dangerous.”

Police and the CFS evacuated Vivonne Bay on the south coast on Wednesday amid fears homes could not be protected should the fire move quickly into the area, but some residents chose to remain.

Fire has already claimed two lives on the island and destroyed 160,000 hectares including most of the Flinders Chase National Park.

The main road to Parndana, near Cygnet River, has been closed and defence force personnel were helping people to leave the area.

“Overnight and into this morning, crews have been actively fighting outbreaks at Deep Creek Gully, Bark Hut and Yarda. These outbreaks remain uncontrolled,” the CFS said.

“The wind direction has already changed today and further changes are expected.”

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The Kangaroo Island fires have broken containment lines. Photo: AAP

CFS deputy incident controller Ray Jackson said huge plumes of smoke were billowing above Vivonne Bay and the Parndana fire remained a threat to a broad area.

“[Residents] are better off, if they have relocated, to stay where they are and remain out of the area,” he said.

He said a wind change this afternoon was pushing fires towards Vivonne Bay and along the Cygnet River.

In Western Australia, a bushfire emergency is threatening lives and homes in the southern Perth suburb of Baldivis.

The fire began in scrub land east of the Kwinana Freeway, near the Karnup Road interchange at midday, ABC reported.

People in an area bounded by Kwinana Freeway to the west, Doghill Road to the north, Kiely Lane to the east and Karnup Road to the south are being told they are in danger and need to act immediately to survive.

The bushfire is moving fast away from the freeway in a north-easterly direction.

At least three water bombers are fighting the fire, including a large aerial crane leased from the US, dubbed Georgia Peach.

State of disaster

Victoria has extended its unprecedented state of disaster as fire conditions are forecast to worsen in coming days.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the declaration, which increases government and agency powers to move people out of affected regions, would continue for East Gippsland the Alpine region and the state’s northeast.

In some welcome encouraging news, Western Australian mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest announced he will spend $70 million on a bushfire recovery package for fire-affected communities.

Authorities are urging people to leave the Victorian Alpine region and all areas in East Gippsland east of Bairnsdale as another round of dry lightning, combined with a forecast wind change, could potentially cause fast-moving fires across the state from Friday.

“We have forecast conditions of extreme danger, very significant fire activity is likely off the back of a hot day today, a hot day tomorrow,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Thursday.

“A change is not coming through in the east of the state until late afternoon tomorrow and in the northern part of the state not until the evening on Saturday.

“This means that we have every reason to believe there will be significant fire activity over the next 48 hours and that means it is appropriate that we continue the state of disaster.”

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Firefighters have been making the most of the weather to prepare. Photo: AAP

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said there are 23 fires burning across the state and more than 1.2 million hectares had been burnt since November 21.

“You should not be there. It is a very dangerous and dynamic situation that will confront us over the next 12, 24 and 36 hours,” Mr Crisp said.

The fires in Victoria have destroyed 244 houses and 400 other structures and three people have been killed. About 2800 properties have been assessed for damage to date.

The third victim was confirmed on Wednesday – Forest Fires Management worker Mat Kavanagh, 43, died when his vehicle crashed in Thornton on January 3.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has confirmed that 1870 homes have been razed by bushfires this season in the state, with that number likely to rise as assessments continue.

The RFS said a further 753 homes had been damaged this season.

NSW fire crews have been taking advantage of cooler conditions this week to prepare for another challenging day Friday, with hot weather expected in several areas.

Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Grahame Reader said there were widespread forecasts of very high-to-severe NSW fire danger for Friday.

“After a relative respite in the weather this week we are expecting another significant spike in (fire) conditions,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“We will have hot and dry northwesterly winds and later in the day a vigorous southerly change will be moving through.”

Temperatures could reach the mid-40s in western NSW before the southerly moves through on Friday afternoon, Mr Reader said.

“Hot and dry conditions fan the fire behaviour. Of significant concern is the gusty southerly change moving through,” he said.

Bushfire weather across NSW is forecast to ease into the weekend.

Forrest fund

Mr Forrest said he would provide $10 million to build a volunteer army of more than 1200 people drawn from the mining and agriculture sectors to deploy to fire zones to assist in the rebuild of devastated communities.

A further $10 million would be spent via his Minderoo Foundation in communities who need support in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Another $50 million would be spent on a “national blueprint” for fire and disaster resilience to develop new approaches to mitigate the threat of bushfires.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 42 councils had been identified as being eligible for $1 million payments, while $18 million had been set aside to offer extra money to local governments worst affected by the fires.

“This is initial and urgent – there will be more,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has also committed $1 billion to help rebuild bushfire-ravaged communities in the state.

The money will go toward repairing and rebuilding damaged infrastructure including roads, rail lines, bridges, schools, health clinics and communications facilities.

It comes on top of more than $200 million already committed by the NSW Government, and a $2 billion national fund provided by the Federal Government.

Ms Berejiklian said her Government’s money would be used for infrastructure, while the Federal funds would go directly to people.

-with AAP

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