Australia — Tonight’s New Year’s Eve fireworks displays will go ahead despite a total fire ban in the south-west.
Authorities are stepping up preparations for today’s extreme heat and wind conditions and have urged the regions residents and holiday-makers to do the same.
Casterton, Hamilton, Colac and Warrnambool will bare the brunt as 2010 makes way for 2011. Warrnambool and Casterton will be windy with a maximum of 38. Hamilton can expect wind as the temperature soars to 37. Mortlake and Colac will hit 35 and Port Fairy (31) and Portland (27) will also experience strong winds.
The CFA and Department of Sustainability and Environment will operate incident control; centres in hamilton and Heywood and have urged coastal communities to be prepared, CFA District 5 operations manager Bruce Farquharson said yesterday.
The total fire ban is the first for the season.
“The message is no campfires and if you don’t need to be travelling in dry grass areas don’t travel in dry grass areas and make sure your fire plan is in place,” Mr Farquharson said.
“A lot of people’s circumstances vary so whether you are on holidays or at home have your fire plan in place.
“The winds are expected to get up early in the day and that will increase the fire danger.
“The temperature might not reach its max into the early afternoon.
Mr Farquharson said fireworks to mark the start of the new year would go ahead under strict conditions.
“There are several fireworks issues,” he said.
“Fireworks will occur with permits under strict conditions – provided the conditions provide for the safe operations. –
“If the winds were to be extreme into the night and there were dry windy conditions there would be a consideration for them not to go ahead, but there is a change expected late in the afternoon.”
Mr Farquharson said proper precautions were required regardless of whether people were in the coastal or inland areas.
“The grasslands have still got green on them but there are patches that are dry,” he said.
“Particularly some of the forests are prone to respond to the very very hot and unstable weather that’s forecast for tomorrow.
“And some of those coastal areas can burn most of the year.”
Warrnambool Surf Lifesaving Club is expecting thousands of people to throng to the Lady Bay area.
“Once it starts to get in the 30s during our peak time we’ll get thousands of people,” Warrnambool Surf Lifesaving Club president Stephen Kerr said.
Lyndoch aged care facility chief executive officer Rhys Boyle offered this advice for older people.
“My advice would be to only go out if you need to, be careful about travel and make sure you keep cool with appropriate fluid,” he said. Warrnambool City Council senior animal control officer Peter McArdle urged pet owners to keep their pets in mind.
“Don’t take them out in the heat of the day,” he said.