Spring fires into summer with 36C

Spring fires into summer with 36C

20 November 2007

published by www.news.com.au

Australia — Victorians will swelter again today after Melbourne yesterday recorded its hottest November day in four years.

And with summer less than a fortnight away, more than 16,500ha of national park and state forest have been burnt as Victoria’s bushfire season got off to a scorching start.

As temperatures soared above 40C in the northwest and topped the 30C mark across much of the state, 11 bushfires were burning in national parks, state forests and protected public land.

The blistering heat yesterday sent Victorians to the beach in droves as others sought airconditioned comfort in a bid to keep cool. Ouyen, in the state’s northwest recorded Victoria’s top temperature yesterday of 42C, while the city recorded a top of 36.7C.

The city can expect a top of 36C today before a cool change sweeps in during the afternoon.

The November average is just 21.9C.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Phil King said Melbourne would have to wait until mid-afternoon for relief when a change would bring showers that would tend to rain overnight.

National Electricity Market Management Company spokesman Paul Bird said the hot conditions saw energy demand peak at 8700 megawatts at 4.30pm yesterday.

He said despite the Yallourn power station running at minimum capacity after a landslide last week, there was still 15 per cent reserve capacity.

“That level of peak demand is below the all-time peak summer demand but is the highest for 10 months,” Mr Bird said.

The change may not help firefighters battling a bushfire in the Little Desert National Park, west of Horsham, which is expected to burn for the next few days.

The blaze has wiped out almost 15,000ha, but has so far been contained within the park and is not threatening private property.

A 3500ha fire in protected public land south of Mildura was still burning last night.

All but one of four small fires in East Gippsland, between Orbost and Cann River, have been contained this morning.

Department of Sustainability and Environment state duty officer Graeme Davis said more than 300 DSE, Parks Victoria and CFA firefighters were working to put out fires across the state.

He said the fires were started by lightning on Sunday and spurred on by dry conditions and strong winds.

“Being early in the season we have the water resources available to us. Fortunately the fires are all on public land at the moment,” he said.

“But the forested country is still subjected to a lot of dry, and this is going to be a problem right through the summer.

“For these fires to get that big that early in the season underlines how dry it is.”

The fires came as a public hearing on bushfires in Victoria heard submissions at Parliament House in Melbourne.

A submission made by the Peoples Review of Bushfires in Victoria recommended more controlled burns.

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