New year tipped to start with high fire risk

A RISKY start to the new year is being forecast by firefighters, with a severe rating expected to be issued for south-west Victoria, despite mild conditions forecast.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) is on course to issue total fire bans for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country and North-Central districts and has not ruled out extending the declaration to other regions.

CFA chief officer Euan Ferguson said there was a possibility that a total fire ban day would be declared this afternoon for the south-west on New Year’s Day.

He said official fireworks celebrations in the south-west would not be affected by any bans. 

“Fuel across most of Victoria is dry and ready to burn,” Mr Ferguson said. 

“The weather bureau is forecasting high temperatures and strong winds for Wednesday, which means our firefighters are likely to have a busy New Years’ Day.” 

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a top temperature of 26 degrees in Warrnambool, 25 in Portland, 27 in Hamilton, 26 in Port Fairy and 27 in Mortlake. 

All five south-west centres are tipped to be drenched by late afternoon showers.

Other parts of the state, including the Mallee, Wimmera and north-eastern Victoria, are on course to endure temperatures in the high 30s on the first day of the new year.

Mr Ferguson said all Victorians should prepare for any potential fires and warned revellers about the issue of illegal fireworks.

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