Officials warned Tuesday the wildfires that devastated southern Australia this month could flare anew when high winds and hot temperatures sweep the region later this week, and raised the death toll from the blazes to 210.
Firefighters are still battling seven blazes burning out of control across Victoria.
Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman Kevin Monk said Friday’s predicted high temperature of 100 degrees, coupled with strong northerly winds, would prove a challenge for firefighters. A late southwesterly wind change is then forecast which could push flames towards towns.
“We are encouraging all of the people of Victoria to be on high alert this week, especially those in fire prone areas,” he said.
“It’s not too late to put together a fire plan and to do works around the house to set up for what could be a bad day on Friday.
“We saw yesterday how it took very little for a fire to start and have an impact.”
Thousands of firefighters are still battling to control blazes burning out of control in Upwey, Daylesford, Wilsons Promontory, Won Wron in Gippsland, Bunyip State Park, and both the north and south complexes of the Kilmore East Murrindindi fires.
Monk said fire crews working on the Upwey fire, which has burned about 150 acres of land in Melbourne’s outer east, were on alert for spot fires after the embers ignited two small fires north of Glenfern Rd outside the main fire area.
While properties are not under direct threat, communities in the area are on alert and have been told to expect smoke and embers in the air.
“We have the aircrane and numerous tankers out there working on that fire,” he said. “The Upwey fire is burning right into the back fences of some of these communities.”
Firefighters are also working to contain a blaze burning about 3 miles south of Daylesford which earlier threatened the town of Musk.