Ex­treme fire alert in record heat­wave

The Australian - - THE NATION - REMY VARGA

Black Sat­ur­day tem­per­a­ture records are set to be bro­ken with tem­per­a­tures soar­ing to the high 40s in north­ern Vic­to­ria.

Mar­ble Bar in Western Aus­tralia’s Pil­bara smashed the Jan­uary record for heat with tem­per­a­tures hit­ting 49.1C on Sun­day.

The Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy has pre­dicted tem­per­a­tures up to 12C higher than av­er­age in parts of cen­tral Western Aus­tralia, Vic­to­ria, NSW, South Aus­tralia, and south­ern Queens­land.

In South Aus­tralia, the gov­ern­ment de­clared a “code red” to un­lock ex­tra funds for home­less shel­ters in the scorch­ing tem­per­a­tures, as parts of the state are set to swel­ter through five con­sec­u­tive days of over 45C.

A to­tal fire ban is in place across Vic­to­ria to­day with Emer­gency Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria warn­ing res­i­dents to pre­pare for the ex­treme heat.

There is an ex­treme risk of fire in the Wim­mera re­gion, a high risk of fire in the Mallee, the north­ern coun­try and north­ern cen­tral Vic­to­ria with the rest of the state put on alert ahead of a se­vere risk.

Emer­gency Man­age­ment Com­mis­sioner An­drew Crisp said the dan­ger of fire was real.

“There is sig­nif­i­cant risk of fire in all re­gions and we ask that peo­ple in­crease their fire pre­pared­ness to en­sure safer fire out­comes, Com­mis­sioner Crisp said. He ad­vised Vic­to­ri­ans, es­pe­cially those at­tend­ing the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis, to pre­pare for the ex­treme heat, re­main hy­drated and to check on oth­ers.

“Look after those most at risk in the heat — your neigh­bour liv­ing alone, the el­derly, the young, peo­ple with a med­i­cal con­di­tion and don’t for­get your pets.” he said.

A Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy spokesman said records set a decade ago dur­ing Black Sat­ur­day, which claimed the lives 173 peo­ple, could be bro­ken this week in north­east­ern Vic­to­ria.

“Ba­si­cally it’s go­ing to break some Jan­uary records, cer­tainly all-time tem­per­a­ture records which were mainly set dur­ing the Black Sat­ur­day fires,” he said.

The towns set to sweat the most in the com­ing days are Shep­par­ton, Al­bury-Wodonga and Echuca, which cur­rently hold record tem­per­a­tures of 46.1C, 44.8C and 46.8C.

Mel­bourne city will be spared the worst with tem­per­a­tures re­main­ing in the low 30s while it will be sig­nif­i­cantly warmer fur­ther in­land.

Heat health alerts have been is­sued in the Mallee, North Cen­tral, North­ern Coun­try and North East start­ing yes­ter­day and go­ing through to at least to­mor­row..

The scorch­ing con­di­tions are ex­pected to re­main un­til Fri­day with southerly winds drop­ping the mer­cury to the low 30s in time for the week­end.

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