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Evacuations ordered as bushfires ignite eastern Victoria

Spring's early fires are a taste of the cruel summer to come.

Spring's early fires are a taste of the cruel summer to come. Photo: AAP

Raging fires in Victoria’s east have prompted emergency warnings for residents and campers amid unseasonably hot spring weather conditions.

An out-of-control fire is burning north of Maffra in the Gippsland region, and people in Briagolong, Culloden, Moornapa, Stockdale and the surrounds have been told to evacuate immediately.

“If you are camping in the area, evacuate immediately,” a VicEmergency alert said.

“This fire is currently travelling in a south-easterly direction.

“The best evacuation route is south towards Sale using Briagolong Road.”

People had until 12.30am AEDT to leave before it was no longer considered safe.

About 70km southeast, residents have been told to immediately shelter indoors as an emergency-level grass fire sweeps across the coastline.

The fire is about 4.2km southwest of Loch Sport and moving in an easterly direction.

‘Take shelter immediately’

“It is too late to leave. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately,” an emergency warning said.

Those unable to get indoors should shelter in the middle of large open areas, such as a ploughed paddock, or submerge themselves in a dam, lake, river, the ocean or an in-ground pool.

A watch and act alert has also been issued for a bushfire near Rawson, north of Morwell.

More unseasonable spring heat is building up across Australia’s eastern seaboard, with a hot weekend across much of the country ahead of an expected cool change later this week.

Adelaide reached 32C on Saturday and extreme fire conditions were in place for the West Coast district with hot, dry and gusty northerly winds.

The temperature on Sunday was significantly lower, in the low 20s.

The AFL grand final was played in 29C in Melbourne on Saturday, one of the hottest grand finals ever.

The Bureau of Meteorology said severe winds that began hitting southeastern parts of Victoria on Saturday were expected to push up the coast on Sunday.

Fanned by ferocious winds

Damaging winds are also expected in the Snowy Mountains and parts of the NSW south coast, the southern tablelands, southwest slopes and the ACT.

The northwestern and upper central west plains of NSW, the Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney and far south coast regions are facing extreme fire danger conditions.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has declared nine total fire bans, from the northern slopes down to the border with the ACT and Victoria.

Five separate regions have been declared at extreme risk of fire, with high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity.

Temperatures are forecast to reach up to 36C in Sydney’s west on Sunday, where the NRL grand final is due to get underway in the evening.

Hot weather provisions such as extended breaks and cold towels and fans for the players will be in place for the match, with tens of thousands of people expected to attend.

Queensland Fire and Emergency services have been battling blazes from Townsville down to the Gold Coast, with another fire burning at Camooweal near the NT border.

A fire weather warning is also in place for the NT’s Simpson East region on Sunday.

-AAP

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