News State Victoria News Reprieve but risk remains from Victorian fires

Reprieve but risk remains from Victorian fires

A firefighting helicopter tackles a bushfire near Bairnsdale in Victoria’s East Gippsland region. Photo: AAP
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Two emergency alerts have been downgraded in Victoria’s fire-ravaged East Gippsland, but a significant risk remains with forecast worsening conditions.

The warning for Buchan moved to a watch-and-act alert on Wednesday morning, while the fire in the Upper Snowy area was recategorised to an advice alert.

“The cooler weather has slowed the movement of fire however the fire is still active (with) a risk of spot fires and embers,” the alert for Buchan, Gelantipy, Suggan Buggan, Timbarra, W Tree, Wulgulmerang reads.

“The weather predicted for Saturday could result in significant fire movement.”

Residents have been urged to prepare themselves and their properties.

Across Victoria five emergency warnings remain in place including four in East Gippsland from Bruthen to Mallacoota and one for a blaze at Corryong in northeast Victoria on the NSW border.

The destructive bushfires have burnt through more than half a million hectares and lightning continues to spark new blazes.

Three fires in East Gippsland have already joined and others are spreading across the NSW-Victoria border.

The fire that drove thousands of people to shelter on a beach at Mallacoota is about 100,000 hectares in size and has moved into NSW.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said 24 structures have been destroyed at Buchan, 19 at Sarsfield, 10 at Mallacoota and up to 15 at Cudgewa.

Power has been cut to more than 7000 properties at East Gippsland and more than 1800 in the northeast.

AusNet says it could take days to restore power because the fires are still burning and it is unsafe to attend and assess the extent of damage.

Phones remain cut across much of the region.

After a request from Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday, military personnel will start arriving to help with the relief effort.

Aircraft including Black Hawk helicopters are expected to land in the east of the state on Wednesday with other aircraft and naval vessels due in the coming days.

The aircraft are expected to help move fire crews, supplies and facilitate evacuations as needed.

Naval vessels including the HMAS Choules left Sydney bound for the East Gippsland coast on Tuesday evening and training vessel MV Sycamore has also been deployed.

Thousands of people remain stranded in remote communities because of blazes.

The sky has turned red as red sky as bushfires approach Mallacoota in East Gippsland, Victoria. Photo: Twitter/@brendanh_au

Parts of the Princes Highway will be opened on Wednesday to allow people to escape.

The state government also announced a bushfire response task force to aid those dealing with fallout from the fires.

The Premier and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville are due to visit the region on Wednesday.