East Gippsland on edge as multiple fires threaten dozens of communities
Victoria’s far east is being ravaged by bushfire, with more than 50 townships east and north of Bairnsdale at risk of being impacted.
It comes after thousands of residents and holidaymakers were told to evacuate at the weekend.
The Princes Highway has been shut at Bairnsdale and doesn’t re-open again until Genoa, some 200 kilometres further east.
Major towns in the area including Lakes Entrance, Buchan, Bruthen, Mallacoota and Orbost have all been issued with emergency warnings – the highest level of warning.
They’re all at risk of being impacted by different blazes, with homes and lives under threat.
There’s also an active emergency warning in Victoria’s north-east, with a blaze burning out of control just north-west of Corryong.
Fires continued to spread on Monday under horrific conditions, with much of the state sweltering in temperatures around 40°C.
Strong wind gusts have also played havoc.
Greg Brick told 3AW Drive the town of Buchan was more or less surrounded.
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“It’s a very nervous time for everybody,” Richard Darby, who runs the Swifts Creek general store, told 3AW on Monday morning.
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Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville warned of a “dynamic and dangerous day” ahead on Monday morning.
“We’re very confident on our prediction that if the weather plays out as predicted these fires in Gippsland will move towards the coast and moved towards townships,” she told Red Symons, filling in for Neil Mitchell.
“We have significant numbers of people down there who we can’t accommodate in relief centres.
“We wanted to give people as much time to get out as early as possible to avoid panic, to avoid being in the situation where roads are closed and they’re confronting fire conditions.”
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But it’s not only the east of the state that is facing challenging conditions.
Falls Music Festival in the Otways, near Lorne, was yesterday called off amid high fire risk conditions.
“We’ve got a challenging day across the whole state today,” Mr Haggerty, from the State Control Centre, said.
“We’ve seen some lightning overnight in the west of the state that has started some new fires. None of those have got warning levels above advice at the moment, but we do know there’s very real potential today for new fires.”
A total fire ban is in place across the state today.
Image: Scott Barbour / Stringer