Mill Park bushfire threatens
homes in Melbourne's north
as East Gippsland blazes
29 December, 2019
An emergency warning has been issued for an out-of-control bushfire threatening homes and lives in Melbourne's north, as the state grapples with a day of extreme fire weather.
Residents in Bundoora, Greensborough and Mill Park have been warned the fast-moving bushfire is moving south from Jubilee Court in Mill Park, through parkland towards the Metropolitan Ring Road.
People north of the Metropolitan Ring Road bordered by Scholar Drive and Booyan Court were told in an emergency warning at 3:52pm that it was too late to leave and they needed to take shelter immediately.
Residents were told to close all doors, turn off cooling systems and shelter in rooms with two exits, and move to already-burnt ground if their home caught fire and they needed to escape.
In a separate watch and act warning for the same bushfire, residents across Bundoora, Mill Park, Greensborough and Plenty are being urged to move away from the bushfire immediately.
Embers were starting fires up to 1 kilometre ahead and to the west of the main fire at Plenty Parklands, authorities said.
In East Gippsland, eight emergency warnings are in place for out-of-control bushfires near Tambo Crossing, Suggan Buggan, Buchan, Bruthen, Wingan River, Goongerah, Wulgulmerang and Clifton Creek.
Firefighters have been pulled away from fighting forest fires in the area to protect properties, ahead of unpredictable fire conditions forecast for the afternoon.
There is a total fire ban in place for the entire state.
PHOTO: Firefighters have been using helicopters to battle several bushfires across East Gippsland. (Supplied: VicEmergency/Wayne Rigg)
Just before 2:30pm, the Princes Highway closure was extended to cover the stretch between Bruthen and Genoa, near the New South Wales border.
The section of the highway north of Genoa to Eden remained open but could close at any time, authorities said.
The Princes Highway is the main road in and out of the remote East Gippsland region and authorities warned there was the potential for further road closures.
PHOTO: Smoke from the East Gippsland bushfires has left a haze over the coastal town of Lakes Entrance. (ABC News: Nicole Asher)
On Sunday, thousands of holidaymakers were told to evacuate East Gippsland due to fears the highway could close and trap anyone left in the area.
Parts of the Great Alpine and Bonang roads were closed on Sunday.
Authorities said 16 new fires were started by lightning strikes overnight.
The fire danger today is rated as extreme in the Mallee, Wimmera, south-west, central, north-central and Northern Country districts, and severe for East Gippsland and the north-east.
"This is a day we do not often see. Our state is dry, it is going to be very hot, it is going to be very windy."
PHOTO: One East Gippsland resident told the ABC they could see a fire moving from their property, west of Bruthen. (Supplied)
Melbourne is forecast to reach a top of 43C, Mildura and Swan Hill in the state's north-west are expected to reach 45C, and Shepparton is expected to reach 43C.
By 12:30pm, Mildura in the state's north west and Orbost in East Gippsland had both reached 42C.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said fire conditions would be made more dangerous by a wind change which would move across the state this afternoon and evening.
"Today … is probably one of the higher risk days we've had for some time and comparable almost to Black Saturday, in some ways, if the forecast does eventuate," Gippsland fires incident controller Ben Rankin said.
Paramedics renewed their pleas to not leave people in hot cars, with Ambulance Victoria confirming two children and a woman in her 70s were hospitalised during Sunday's hot weather.
Extreme heat timetables are in place for the state's regional train service, V/Line, and trams are running to a Saturday timetable.
Emergency-level blaze making its own weather
There are more than 10 fires currently burning in East Gippsland, including three large fires that started in late November.
An out-of-control bushfire near Wulgulmerang is threatening homes and lives and was upgraded to an emergency warning shortly after 11:00am.
Residents in Gelantipy, Wulgulmerang and Wulgulmerang East were told "it is too late to leave, this fire is moving rapidly".
An emergency-level bushfire at Wingan River, near Mallacoota in the state's far east, started on Sunday and increased rapidly in size overnight to reach the coast.
Authorities said it travelled more than 20 kilometres within five hours overnight.
Residents and holidaymakers in Furnell, Tamboon, Tamboon South and Wingan River have been told it is too late to leave.
"That fire is currently generating its own weather," State Control Centre spokesman Luke Heagarty said early this morning.
"Which means lightning strikes, variable winds, so that's going to be a very challenging fire for our firefighters today, on top of the existing fires that we had in East Gippsland."
PHOTO: A fire near Bruthen is among a number of blazes that have been burning in East Gippsland for several weeks. (Supplied: Michael Airey)
Bushfires that have been burning near Ensay and Tambo Crossing since late November have joined at the southern end and are burning out of control, threatening homes and lives.
An emergency warning for that blaze is in place for Reedy Flat, Tambo Crossing, Wattle Circle and Ensay South.
A fire near Bruthen that has been burning since November is out-of-control and travelling towards Ramrod Creek.
Residents were told shortly after 1:00pm to leave before conditions become too dangerous.
Fire activity has increased at a blaze near Buchan and an emergency warning was issued for Buchan, Buchan South and Sunny Point about 1:50pm.
An emergency warning was issued at 11:36am for a fire north of Suggan Buggan that is threatening homes and lives as it travels south.
"The fire is becoming increasingly active," the warning said.
An emergency-level bushfire west of the remote community of Goongerah is threatening homes and lives at Goongerah, Martins Creek, Nurran, Sardine Creek and Errinundra.
Several other watch and act warnings are in place for the state's east, and advice-level blazes are burning in the west.
'Not a mass exodus' despite widespread evacuation warning
Yesterday's evacuation warning for East Gippsland included an estimated 30,000 people holidaying in the threatened area.
"We really are very concerned about what these fires might do today under the conditions we've predicted," Mr Heagarty said.
Despite the warnings, many residents and tourists chose to stay in the Lakes Entrance area on Sunday.
Mr Crisp said although a significant number of people left yesterday, there were "a lot of holidaymakers still in East Gippsland".
"It's not a mass exodus," the Mayor of East Gippsland, John White, told RN Breakfast.
Cr White, a grazier and long-term resident of the area, said he had never seen East Gippsland so dry.
"Three-and-a-half years of getting drier and drier and the landscape is totally parched. And that's why we're in such a crisis at the moment."
Extreme heat also forced Falls Festival organisers to cancel the annual Lorne event yesterday.
About 9,000 people were forced to pack up and leave the area, just a day after arriving.
PHOTO: Ninety Mile Beach at Lakes Entrance still attracted visitors on Monday, but the town was quieter than earlier in the week. (ABC News: Freya Michie)
29 December, 2019
Holidaymakers refusing to leave a popular part of Victoria face being trapped by fires after authorities shut a highway and issued ten emergency warnings.
About 30,000 tourists as well as 45,000 locals were told to leave the East Gippsland region on Sunday in what would be one of the biggest mass evacuations in Australia's history.
An emergency warning, the highest possible alert, was issued for a blaze west of Goongerah, in East Gippsland, on Monday afternoon and an evacuation order remains in place.
Another emergency warning also was issued on Monday afternoon for a fire burning 13km from Walwa in the northeast, near the NSW border.
Emergency warnings have also been issued in East Gippsland for the W Tree fire, Ramrod Creek, Bullumwaal, Clifton Creek, Deptford, Mount Taylor, Waterholes and Fairhope.
The highest alert has also been issued for Suggan Buggan, Buchan, Buchan South and Sunny Point. Suggan Buggan is a border town, also threatened by out-of-control blazes in NSW.
Similar alerts were already in place on Monday for the Ensay-Barmouth Spur fire, and the Wingan River fire. The Ensay-Barmouth Spur fire had been two fires but joined overnight and has burnt about 100,000 hectares.
'You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately. It is too late to leave,' some of the emergency warnings said.
The Princes Highway between Cann River and Genoa was shut at 1pm amid the increased fire activity in the area and residents were told it's too late to leave. ...