Victoria fires: blazes break out in Grampians as temperatures soar across state

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Fire warnings issued to communities in the Wimmera as hot weather leads to first catastrophic fire danger rating since black summer

Emergency warnings have been issued over fires burning in and near the Grampians national park, as temperatures have soared into the 40s in parts of Victoria.

Two alerts were issued to communities near the Grampians national park, in Victoria’s west, on Tuesday afternoon due to the seperate fires that were yet to be under control.

One, issued at 2.30pm, warned those in Dadswells Bridge, Ledcourt, Roses Gap and Wartook that “there is a bushfire at Grampians national park, Mt Stapylton that is not yet under control and is travelling in a south-easterly direction”.

“A south westerly wind change in the area will cause the fire to change direction towards Dadswells Bridge and Ledcourt,” the VicEmergency warning reads.

“Leaving immediately is the safest option, before conditions become too dangerous.”

A similar warning was issued for another bushfire within the Grampians national park, directed at those in Bellfield, Bellfield Settlement, Halls Gap, Lake Fyans, Pomonal.

“Pomonal could be impacted anytime within the next two hours,” the warning read.

“A wind change is expected around 2:00pm which will cause the fire to change directions towards Pomonal. Conditions can become very dangerous and unpredictable.”

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A catastrophic fire rating had been issued for the Wimmera for Tuesday – the state’s worst day for bushfire risk since the black summer of 2019-20. An extreme fire danger is forecast for the Mallee, Northern Country and Central districts, which includes Melbourne. A total fire ban is in place for much of the state.

There were also several other “advice” warnings across the state, including for a grass fire in Stockyard Hill, 50km west of Ballarat, and a bushfire in Icy Creek, located near Mt Baw Baw.

In Melbourne, temperatures reached 27C at 6am and had climbed to 35C by 1pm.

Belinda House, duty forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the city was on track to reach 37C before a cool change expected across the state from about 5pm.

In Avalon and Geelong, temperatures reached 39C just before 1pm, while the town of Walpeup, in the state’s north-west, recorded 40.4C early Tuesday afternoon.

“There’s plenty of warmth out there. We’ve had some fairly fresh and gusty north to northwesterly winds coming down from the central district, so the heat is building,” House said.

“The south-westerly wind change will push across Melbourne around about 5pm and it’s on a diagonal – so Mildura and Wilson’s Prom will probably start to cool down around the same time,” House said.

She said shower and thunderstorm activity was expected ahead of the cool wind change.

About 38 schools and 17 early childhood centres have shut across the state and the Country Fire Authority’s chief officer, Jason Heffernan, said firefighters were prepared for “nasty conditions”.

Heffernan told ABC TV it would be some of the most dangerous grassfire conditions since 2019-20 – one of the most intense and catastrophic fire seasons on record in Australia.

Power providers also have crews on standby to respond to any outages caused by damage to poles and wires, the state’s energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, told reporters.

The emergency management commissioner, Rick Nugent, said Tuesday’s weather forecast, with some areas predicted to reach 40C, would be challenging.

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

The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) 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.

South Australians were also bracing for a hot and dry Tuesday.

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

The South Australian Country Fire Service said “very hazardous” fire weather conditions were predicted.

The Bureau of Meteorology had 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 was also in place for parts of Western Australia including Kimberley, Gascoyne, Central West and Great Southern districts.