Residents and visitors are being told to leave a large part of Victoria’s east ahead of Monday’s severe fire danger.
Three significant fires are burning in East Gippsland forests near Bruthen, Buchan and Bonang, and emergency services say it is likely these fires will grow in size on Monday, impacting communities and potentially crossing the Princes Highway.
“If you’re planning on visiting East Gippsland today or Monday, don’t do it,” Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.
“If you’re already visiting East Gippsland, you need to leave the area today.
“It is not possible to provide support and aid to all the visitors currently in the East Gippsland region, and if the Princes Highway is impacted, you may not be able to leave for some time.
“If you live in East Gippsland, you need to move to safer locations.”
The message today if you are in Forests or Parks in East Gippsland time to Leave Now, the large fires in the landscapes will get much bigger tomorrow. Leave Now, it will be very very dangerous be in the bush today or tomorrow. Leave Now! @EMV_news @DELWP_Vic pic.twitter.com/4lYQUrXuaf
— Chris Hardman (@FFMVic_Chief) December 29, 2019
Authorities are also warning of the risk of new fires being ignited by lightning strikes in dry, drought-affected forests.
The danger area stretches from Omeo in the high country to Bonang, all the way south to the coast, from east of Bairnsdale to Cann River.
The fire danger for tomorrow is rated as extreme in the Mallee, Wimmera, South West, Central, North Central and Northern Country districts, and severe for East Gippsland and the North East.
Earlier, organisers of the Falls Music and Arts Festival cancelled the rest of the event, which was to run until New Year’s Day, citing forecast extreme weather conditions and bushfire risk.