Australia — Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has warned the state’s 60-day bushfire crisis was only halfway through.
Mr Bracks said the fire threat was not over and named the Mornington Peninsula, Otways, central Victoria, Macedon Ranges and the Dandenongs as potential areas of risk.
He said dry conditions had resulted in Victoria’s earliest fire season ever and that it was entering what is traditionally the most critical time.
“The reality is we’re entering into February, one of the highest fire threat periods in Victoria’s history,” Mr Bracks said.
“We expect at least another 60 days of significant efforts where we have dry conditions around the state, and strong winds which have the potential for significant new fire activity to occur in Victoria.”
CFA chief officer Russell Rees said despite recent rain, summer was not yet over.
“There will be hot days in February and March, we need to remain vigilant,” Mr Rees said.
“The community needs to work with fire services and the success of December and January, we want to carry through to the end of the year.”
Also on Monday, Mr Bracks paid tribute to fire fighters and support agencies including the Red Cross, Salvation Army and State Emergency Service.
Mr Bracks said if the bushfires, some of the biggest ever recorded in Victoria’s history, had occurred at another period, there would have been greater destruction and loss of life.
“What has been an heroic effort is the amount of assets, the amount of lives, the amount of communities that have been saved in this fire fight, it’s been unprecedented,” he said.