Hot winds to hike Vic bushfire threat

Hotwinds to hike Vic bushfire threat

4 February 2007

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Australia — Fire authorities believe they can hold bushfires still burningin Victoria’s east as hot winds and temperatures into the 40s hit Victoria onMonday.

But they are wary that new outbreaks could again stretch the state’sfirefighting resources.

A total fire ban has been declared across Victoria for Monday.

A top temperature of 38 degrees Celsius is expected in Melbourne with hot,dry northerly winds expected to drive temperatures into the low 40s in manycentres.

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) state duty officer JohnLloyd said fire crews expected to hold the massive Great Divide South and Northfires that together have destroyed more than 1.1 million hectares in thenorth-east and Gippsland regions since December 1.

“The weather is going to be pretty severe in Victoria tomorrow,” MrLloyd said.

“Depending on any new starts tomorrow, we think that most of theexisting fires that we have got, we should be able to hold those within thecontrol lines that we have established.

“There’s not a great concern there except for a small area near SwiftsCreek, but we think that under a northerly air stream, that will be pushingitself back in to the already burnt area.

“The balance of the state still remains very dry.

“The moisture that we received in January is gone. We’re back to verydry conditions and the potential for any new starts to give us a hard time isvery high.”

The Great Divide North fire has been contained but the South complex remainsongoing, with about one kilometre of control lines to be built near Swifts Creekto contain the blaze, Mr Lloyd said.

A mineral earth fire break has contained a small flare-up on the32,000-hectare Tatong fire, south-west of Benalla in Victoria’s north-east, hesaid.

Under the total fire ban, no fires may be lit in the open air from midnightSunday (AEDT) until midnight Monday.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) is advising people living in areas at riskof fire to activate their bushfire plans.

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