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12 February 2024
The Country Fire Authority, CFA, is urging people to be on high alert tomorrow, Tuesday, due to a catastrophic fire danger rating in the Wimmera.
With catastrophic and extreme weather conditions forecast tomorrow, a Total Fire Ban, TFB, has been declared for the Wimmera, Mallee, Northern Country, Central, South West and North Central fire weather districts.
A TFB means no fire can be lit in the open air or allowed to remain alight from 12.01am to 11.59pm on that day.
A catastrophic fire danger rating means conditions will be the most dangerous for a fire under the new Australian Fire Danger Rating System. If a fire starts and takes hold, lives and homes are likely to be lost.
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Tomorrow’s conditions in the Wimmera, Mallee and Northern Country will be hot and windy with temperatures reaching about 40 degrees, with northerly winds of about 40-50 kilometres an hour, km/h, before a gusty south-westerly wind change with wind speeds between 60-80 km/h.
CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan said tomorrow’s conditions represented the worst fire-risk day Victoria had experienced since the 2019-20 fire season.
Mr Heffernan said the safest option for people in bushfire risk areas within the Wimmera region was to start planning to leave tonight or early in the morning.
“Tomorrow’s conditions will put you and your families lives at risk if a fire starts and takes hold,” he said.
“Do not plan to defend your home on catastrophic fire danger days – the safest place to be is away from high-risk areas such as campsites, parks and forests.
“Catastrophic conditions make it difficult for firefighters to control fires should one start.
“Be prepared for fire, monitor conditions and know where to get information so you can make good decisions about your safety.
“Don’t wait for an official warning before you leave, emergencies can start quickly and threaten lives and homes within minutes.
“If you are caught out and all other bushfire plans have failed, be aware of local last resort options such as Neighbourhood Safer Places and designated Community Fire Refuges.”
More information can be found at www.cfa.vic.gov.au, and Victorians should also make sure they have access to more than one source of information, including radio stations, the VicEmergency App, VicEmergency website www.emergency.vic.gov.au, VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 and CFA or VicEmergency Twitter or Facebook.