News National Victoria braces for ‘most significant fire risk’ as heatwave strikes three states
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Victoria braces for ‘most significant fire risk’ as heatwave strikes three states

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A man has been charged for starting a fire near Adelaide as heatwave conditions across swathes of southeast Australia raise fire dangers.

Police stopped a car speeding away from a blaze in the Adelaide Hills and arrested a 60-year-old who has been charged with cause bushfire, unlicensed and drink driving and engaging in a police pursuit.

More than 300 firefighters spent the night battling blazes in the Adelaide Hills on Sunday.

It comes as Victorians on Monday face the harshest conditions of the bushfire season so far, with total fire bans declared across the state.

At the same time, much of South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria will experience heatwave conditions on Monday.

The warning comes after temperatures in some regions climbed into the mid-40s on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the SA Country Fire Service has been working through the night to contain a number of bushfires that are burning in Adelaide Hills and threatening several townships about 15 kilometres from the CBD.

‘Most significant fire risk’

Monday will present the biggest bushfire test for Victorian authorities in what has so far been a subdued season due to an active La Nina weather pattern, which has made for a largely soggy summer.

The Country Fire Authority has declared a total fire ban in the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North Central, North East and East Gippsland, meaning no fires can be lit in the open air or allowed to remain alight.

A severe fire danger rating is forecast for the five districts excluding East Gippsland, which has a very high fire danger rating.

“The next 24 hours we’ll see the most significant fire risk posed to this state so far this season,” CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan told reporters on Sunday.

Temperatures are forecast to soar into the 40s in Victoria’s northwest on Monday and hit the high 30s elsewhere, including 39C in Melbourne.

The forecast afternoon wind change on Monday will be the most dangerous period for fires but will also carry cooler air, rapidly dropping temperatures by 10 to 15C and aiding fire crews’ efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Heatwave conditions to continue

Regional NSW and SA – including Adelaide – also sweltered through extreme heat on Sunday, with the mercury soaring to 40C in Sydney’s west and 43.8C at Hay in the state’s western Riverina region.

But much like Victoria, there will be little relief across affected areas.

Adelaide and Melbourne are headed for forecast lows of 27C, with Sydney tipped to fare slightly better with 21C.

“We’re looking at an oppressive night,” meteorologist Michael Efron told reporters on Sunday.

Victoria, Tasmania, and western and southern parts of NSW are likely see their hottest temperatures of the heatwave on Monday, while the mercury is due to peak on Tuesday for eastern NSW and Greater Sydney.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Gabrielle Woodhouse said heat records were unlikely to tumble over the coming days.

Ms Woodhouse added that the heat – including overnight temperatures – was unlikely to subside in NSW until Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

On Australia Day on Tuesday, temperatures will rise to between 38C and 41C in western Sydney and hover around 32C in the city due to a sea breeze.

Canberra is also forecast to swelter, reaching the mid-30s before an evening shower.

A cool change is expected to move east across Victoria on Monday afternoon, rapidly dropping temperatures by 10 to 15C.

That change is expected to reach Hobart by midday but not before temperatures rise into the mid-30s across much of Tasmania’s east and south.

SA arrest

A man has been charged with starting a bushfire in the Adelaide Hills after speeding away from police patrolling the area.

His arrest comes as firefighters battle a number of bushfires burning in the hills southeast of Adelaide.

A patrol car spotted a vehicle speeding away from the fire on Piggott Range Road at Clarendon on Sunday evening.

Police stopped the car and arrested the 60-year-old, who has now facing charges of cause bushfire, unlicensed and drink driving, and engaging in a police pursuit.

He was refused bail to appear in Christies Beach Court later on Monday.

The fire was put out by members of the public and caused minimal damage, police said.

Detectives are investigating whether this fire is linked with others in the hills area.

More than 300 firefighters spent the night battling blazes in the Adelaide Hills on Sunday.

An emergency warning was issued for the Cherry Gardens fire including Echunga and Macclesfield in the Mount Loft Ranges.

Authorities downgraded that alert to Watch and Act overnight.

Adelaide sweltered through heatwave conditions on Sunday, with temperatures climbing above 40C across much of South Australia.

An emergency warning was issued for areas including Echunga and Macclesfield in the Mount Loft Ranges.

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the Clarendon fire or anyone with dashcam footage to come forward.

-with AAP