Catastrophic fire danger warning as heatwave hits

Melissa Meehan and Rachael Ward |

Victorian firefighters are bracing for extreme fire danger conditions.
Victorian firefighters are bracing for extreme fire danger conditions.

Hot weather has hit Victoria early in the day as the state experiences its first catastrophic fire conditions since the Black Summer of 2019-20. 

Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia are also on alert for extreme fire danger amid heatwave conditions.

In western Victoria, schools and national parks have been shut as conditions forecast include winds of up to 100 kilometres an hour, possible dry lightning and thunderstorms.

Hot northerly winds were already moving across the state, Country Fire Authority chief officer Jason Heffernan told ABC TV.

He said hot conditions set in early with the mercury reaching 29C in Mildura and 27C in Melbourne at 6am.

A catastrophic fire danger rating has been declared for the Wimmera region, with authorities closely watching conditions in Rainbow, Warracknabeal, Minyip, Rupanyup and Murtoa.

“Those communities are of particular concern for firefighters today as conditions will be very, very nasty ,” Mr Heffernan said.

Extreme fire danger is forecast for the Mallee, a high danger rating for rest of the state except for East Gippsland and a total fire ban in much of the state.

Mr Heffernan said it would be some of the most dangerous grassfire conditions since the Black Summer of 2019-20.

Black Summer was one of the most intense and catastrophic fire seasons on record in Australia.

Tasmanians are also being urged to prepare for an increased fire danger over the coming days.

Tasmania Fire Service deputy chief officer Matt Lowe said current weather conditions combined with a dry landscape meant fires could spread easily and become difficult to control. 

“TFS are putting a temporary hold on issuing fire permits in the south and north of the state until 2am Thursday,” he said on Monday. 

“While we are not declaring a Total Fire Ban, we are asking people to think carefully before lighting campfires and using machinery, and if doing so please be extremely cautious.”

South Australians are bracing for a hot and dry Tuesday and extreme fire conditions. 

Total fire bans have been declared, with extreme fire danger ratings for mid north, Riverland and Murraylands. 

The South Australian Country Fire Service says “very hazardous” fire weather conditions are predicted.

The Bureau of Meteorology has also issued a heatwave warning for parts of Victoria, with conditions expected to ease with a cooler change from late Tuesday night through early Wednesday morning.

A severe heatwave warning is also in place for parts of Western Australia including Kimberley, Gascoyne, Central West and Great Southern Districts. 

AAP