IT’S SHAPING up to be a torrid day for firefighters, the elderly and frail with a forecast of extreme fire risk and temperatures of at least 40 degrees fanned by northerly winds.
After higher-than-normal overnight temperatures, the south-west is tipped to experience its hottest day this summer with some municipalities enacting heatwave procedures.
A total fire ban has been declared across the whole state and an extreme danger rating declared in the south-west, Wimmera and central disticts.
CFA region five operations officer Steve Giddens said it would be the most dangerous fire risk since Black Saturday in 2009.
“We are in extreme mode. Grass fires will run and will be very hard to manage,” he said.
“There is long grass, dry soil, low humidity and wind.
“We have four aircraft at Hamilton, two at Casterton and some at Colac.
“There are 41 aircraft across Victoria that will be available to us if necessary. All brigades are on heightened availability.”
Mr Giddens advised people in rural areas to have their fire plans ready and if travelling to be aware of surroundings and escape routes.
“Carry woollen blankets, keep your fluid intake up and try to keep cool,” he said.
The RSPCA said an animal left alone in a parked vehicle during summer could die in six minutes or less.
Corangamite Shire Council chief executive Andrew Mason said the official heatwave plan would be enacted today with extra visits to vulnerable clients and safety advice on the website.
“Due to weather forecasts, the Department of Health issued us with a heat health alert,” he said.
“It is important that residents and visitors to the area understand that heat-related illnesses are serious. Never leave children, adults or animals in parked cars, avoid strenuous activity and unnecessary physical tasks and prepare for power failure.”
Most centres across the south-west yesterday hit 30 degrees by 10.30am and with Dartmoor topping the state with 39.9 degrees. Today’s forecast top temperatures are: Warrnambool and Portland 40 degrees, Mortlake, Hamilton and Colac 41 degrees while Port Fairy and Casterton are tipped to hit 42 degrees.