Extreme fire danger has been declared for parts of Victoria on Saturday with the mercury tipped to soar beyond 40 degrees in some places.
Fire authorities have declared a total fire ban for seven out of the nine state districts, warning that a mix of heat and wind poses a dangerous risk.
Severe to extreme fire danger conditions have been declared across most of Victoria.
Fire services commissioner Craig Lapsley says wind gusts of up to 60km/h followed by a southwesterly change in the late afternoon could fan any existing fires.
“That’s the worst scenario you can have,” he told reporters on Friday.
“It’s a day where the temperatures will get up early in the day. Strong winds will be with us all day with a wind change.
“Even after the change, it’s not a cool change, it has potential to hold in for at least two hours, which is quite significant if we have fires running.”
The hot conditions signal the first biggest test this summer, with residents in risk areas being urged to work out their bushfire survival plans.
“For those in extreme fire danger areas, they should consider leaving,” Mr Lapsley said.
“If the plan is to leave, leave early.
“If the plan is stay, be well prepared and understand the potential of fire and your circumstances.”
The Country Fire Authority has declared a total fire ban for Saturday for the southwest, north central, Mallee, northern country, Wimmera, northeast and central districts.
The areas of the Mallee, Wimmera and northern country, which include Mildura, Horsham and Bendigo, are rated in extreme fire danger.
A severe fire danger rating is in place for the southwest, central area including Melbourne, north central and northeast.
Gippsland has been rated very high fire danger.
Earlier on Friday, fire crews controlled small grassfires that forced the closure of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
A grassfire near Bendigo was also controlled.
Ambulance Victoria operations manager Paul Holman urged people to keep out of the heat, stay cool and hydrated on Saturday.
Premier Denis Napthine said Victorians needed to keep informed.
“If in doubt, leave early and live. Don’t put yourself and your family at risk,” he said.