Australia’s fire chiefs are warning of a very dangerous season ahead, with five states facing fire weather warnings on Tuesday.
Unseasonably hot conditions are expected across Australia’s eastern seaboard, with the mercury tipped to climb to 30 degrees and beyond in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart and Canberra.
Victoria – where one home was lost on Monday – is at particular risk, with temperatures expected to reach the mid-30s before a southwesterly change brings strong and dangerous winds later in the day.
A total fire ban has been declared for Victoria’s Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North Central, South West and Central areas, amid extremely volatile conditions.
“We’re expecting a southwesterly change across the state later today. It will drop temperatures in the order of 10 degrees, but if you’re on a fire ground a major change is a very dangerous scenario,” Country Fire Authority controller Gil Marshall has told the Nine network.
“It’s certainly a very early start to the fire season. It’s a wake up call for everybody to get yourself prepared.”
Brad Carter lost his home at Wensleydale, near Anglesea, on Tuesday – a blaze that took 100 fire fighters and two aircraft hours to control.
“There’s nothing left at all. Photos and relics, treasures, photos of kids, travel, tools of the trade, everything (is gone),” he said.
At least 80 per cent of NSW is under a very high fire danger warning on Tuesday, and that could continue into the week.
“We’ve got temperatures into the high 30s and some of the winds are up to 80km/h,” NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told the network.
“Southeastern Australia is shaping up for an above normal fire season this year. We need people to be vigilant and we need people to be careful.”
Queensland is also on high alert, after three significant fires on Monday at Wivenhoe Pocket, west of Brisbane, North Gregory, southwest of Bundaberg, and Bluewater, northwest of Townsville.
Fire crews are closely monitoring those blazes and others on Tuesday, and there were a total of 60 blazes across the state over the weekend, including one that damaged a home and destroyed equipment at Cape Cleveland near Townsville.
“We’re now back to 12 going fires, which we’ll be containing and monitoring today,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Mike Wassing said.
He said the state’s populated coastal areas would face a significant fire threat this season.
“Those hinterland and interface areas around the whole of the coastal fringe are certainly at great risk in Queensland,” he said.
“Inland areas will also have fires but due to the drought conditions, there’s less fuel this year.”
TEMPERATURES FORECAST IN AUSTRALIA’S EASTERN STATE CAPITALS:
– Sydney 33C
– Melbourne 35C
– Brisbane 31C
– Hobart 30C
– Canberra 31C
(Source: Bureau of Meteorology)