Bushfires persist across Victoria, Australia, Jan. 14. Forecast rainfall may bring some relief to the area through Jan. 17.

Severity: Warning Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Melbourne
  • Geelong
  • Albury
Click above image to access interactive map.

This alert began 13 Jan 2020 19:23 GMT and is scheduled to expire 17 Jan 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Bushfires, fire danger threat
  • Location: Victoria, Australia 
  • Time Frame: Through at least Jan. 17
  • Impact: Evacuations; road closures; transport, utility, and business disruptions

Summary
As of Jan. 14, more than 30 bushfires continue to burn across Victoria, Australia, including five at the "watch and act" alert level. Rainfall is forecast in the area through Jan. 17, which will decrease the threat of fires across the state; however, conditions can change rapidly in the coming days and could cause new increases in fire threat. A high fire danger warning has been declared for all of Victoria, which is projected to remain in effect for much of the state through at least Jan. 17. Authorities will likely issue new alerts or update or rescind existing advisories as conditions change over the coming days.

Authorities have not provided an estimated containment date for the fires; further hot and dry conditions and strong winds would continue to hamper firefighting efforts and allow for additional fire growth. Fires could lead to further evacuations, closure of secondary and primary roads, and general ground travel and business disruptions.

Transport and Utilities
The bushfires have caused some road closures and localized transport disruptions in the affected areas. Authorities have closed major roads, including Princes Highway between Orbost and the New South Wales border. Other secondary roads throughout the state also remain closed due to fires. The status of roads could change over the coming hours and days; authorities could close routes within the bushfire complex and areas under evacuation and emergency warnings due to fire activity and to facilitate the needs of response operations. Low visibility from smoke and possible ashfall could contribute to traffic delays and congestion in the region; flight disruptions are possible at airports in the region, including Melbourne Airport (MEL). Power outages are likely in some areas.

Health
Smoke from fires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees, plants, and possibly building materials. Such smoke can hurt eyes, irritate the respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. Smoke may also worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Advice
Heed all evacuation orders. Seek updated information on road conditions if driving in the affected area; road closures and detours will cause increased congestion and delays. Individuals not under evacuation warnings should consider remaining inside well-ventilated, air-conditioned spaces to reduce exposure to smoke. Collect essential items - including identification and any important legal and travel documents - in a "go-bag" that can be easily accessed. Charge battery-powered devices in case of prolonged power outages.

Resources
Australian Bureau of Meteorology: www.bom.gov.au
Victoria Fire Authority: www.cfa.vic.gov.au
Vic Emergency: www.emergency.vic.gov.au
VicTraffic: www.traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au
Melbourne Airport: www.melbourneairport.com.au

Related Advice: Health Effects of Smoke Exposure
Related Advice: Personal safety before and during wildfires.