THE CFA has declared a severe fire warning for the south-west today and reminded people to be vigilant with the mercury set to hit 40 degrees in Warrnambool.
CFA operations officer Richard Bourke said although the south-west had not been declared a total fire ban day the wind would be a major concern, with northerly’s of up to 40km/h and wind gusts of up 60km/h predicted.
Mr Bourke said an air observation aircraft would be flying around the district looking for smoke.
He urged residents to monitor the conditions throughout the day and to have their fire plans ready.
“Most would have prepared their properties,” he said.
Mr Bourke said grasses had cured at different rates around the district and the fire danger would be higher north of Hamilton and Mortlake.
There will be incident management teams based in Heywood and Warrnambool.
Farmers and harvesting contractors who are cropping or harvesting have been warned to be aware of their local conditions, particularly wind speeds, and to be extra vigilant in knowing when to shut down their machinery.
Colac is expected to reach 37, Mortlake is expected to hit 40 and Portland and Port Fairy should get to 37 and 36 respectively respectively.
CFA District 2 operations manager Mark Gilmore said for those harvesting, the single most important thing to do was take regular breaks to clear out grass, sticks and seeds that become caught in airflow vents, stone guards and bash plates.
“On top of that don’t forget to regularly look behind you — hot exhausts can easily start fires as can sparks when machinery hits stones,” he said.
Acting Inspector Steve Thompson, of Warrnambool police, said that following the Telstra outage the emergency services were urging residents to make contact with family and friends and make the necessary provisions for those at risk.
He said given the outage and the hot weather it was a reminder to the community to be extremely vigilant and support family and friends.
He said lines and services were coming back online and he appreciated the support and patience of the community.
Highs of 44C are expected in Mildura — just one degree off the hottest ever November day recorded in the state.
Total fire bans have been declared for the Wimmera and Mallee districts and is the first for the season.