Fire danger in ‘summer-like conditions’ this weekend

The CFA contained a bushfire in Seaview in Gippsland on March 10.

The CFA contained a bushfire in Seaview in Gippsland on March 10. Photo: CFA

Brace for a “bad fire day” as hot and windy weather is forecast and total fire bans are declared in Victoria and South Australia.

“On Saturday we’re going to see summer-like conditions,” Victoria’s Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said on Friday, warning that temperatures of more than 30 degrees would scorch the state.

“Coupled with that are very strong winds, and that is the driving force to see the fire danger ratings being elevated to that of ‘severe’ and total fire bans being declared for six districts covering all of western Victoria and central Victoria,” Mr Lapsley said.

“It might be a bad fire day”.

The Country Fire Authority in Victoria has declared total fire bans for the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, Central, North Central and South West regions on Saturday.

Total fire bans have also been issued for Saturday in Adelaide and the surrounding areas of Flinders, the Mid North, the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Upper South East.

Total fire bans mean no fire can be lit or be allowed to remain alight in the open air from 12.01am Saturday, March 17.

Victorian State Response controller Gavin Freeman told The New Daily response agencies had been preparing for days, identifying available firefighters and aircraft.

“Most people think the fire season is finished now that it’s autumn, but I can’t emphasise enough that we have a significant day tomorrow,” Mr Freeman said about Saturday.

Mr Freeman said the fire danger was “not unheard of, but not normal” for this time of year.

“If these conditions had happened in January, you wouldn’t be surprised by it, but these are very windy days coupled by the fact that we haven’t had any rain and the fuel is very dry,” Mr Freeman said.

“These things are linking up and hopefully we can get to Monday and the weather will cool off,” he said, adding that Victorians “need to work to ensure that we don’t have any fires starting this weekend.”

Mr Freeman said the weather would cool on Sunday, but he was concerned about strong winds causing further damage.

“Sunday is going to cool off, but there is still wind, and north-to-south westerly winds.

“If the wind swings around to the side of the fire, the flank of the fire can become the head and the wind change could be bad for us.”

Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Grace Legge told The New Daily the NSW fire danger would peak on Sunday, not Saturday, in the greater Hunter Region, Sydney and along the coast due to warmer temperatures moving through the southern and central ranges.

Dr Legge said New South Wales would experience unusually hot temperatures for this time of year, including 37 degrees in Penrith in Sydney’s western suburbs.

“In NSW, the temperatures are about 12 degrees above average for this time of year,” she said.

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