Increased bushfire threat for Victoria, Australia through at least Feb. 1 due to hot, dry, and windy conditions. Disruptions possible.

Severity: Warning Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Melbourne
  • Geelong

This alert began 30 Jan 2020 21:56 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Feb 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Bushfires
  • Location(s): Victoria (map)
  • Date: Through Feb. 1
  • Impact: Evacuations; road closures; transport, utility, and business disruptions

Summary
As of early Jan. 29, seven fires continue to burn across eastern Victoria, Australia, all of which at the "advice" alert level. The bushfire threat is expected to increase through Feb. 1 due to hot, dry, and windy conditions forecast for the area. A severe fire danger warning and total fire ban is in effect for Mallee, Wimmera, South West, Northern Country, North Central, and Central, Jan. 31. A very high fire danger warning is in effect for the rest of the state including North East, West and South Gippsland, and East Gippsland. For Feb. 1, a severe fire danger warning is in place for Northern Country and North East, while a very high fire danger warning has been issued for Mallee, North Central, and East Gippsland. Authorities will likely issue new alerts or update/rescind existing advisories as conditions change over the coming days.

Authorities have not provided an estimated containment date for the fires; further hot, dry, and windy conditions would 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. As of early Jan. 31, there is one watch and act bushfire in Victoria, which is affecting Bendoc, Bendoc Upper, Haydens Bog.

Transport and UtilitiesThe bushfires have caused some road closures and localized transport disruptions in the affected areas. Authorities have closed major roads, including Princes Highway between Cabbage Tree Creek 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. Smoke and ashfall from bushfires may cause poor air quality in Victoria. Power outages are likely within and near bushfire complexes.

HealthSmoke 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. 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