Homes and lives are under renewed danger as an emergency warning in Victoria’s far east persists, as cooler weather lowers the fire threat elsewhere in the state.
The Cann Road Bridge fire flared up this afternoon with an emergency warning issued for Noorinbee and Noorinbee North, near the NSW border.
“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive,” the warning says.
It comes as the fire threat across the east was slightly downgraded, with all alerts across the state sitting at a watch and act level or lower at 4pm today.
Milder weather is forecast across the week with rain developing in the state’s east on Wednesday and extending at least until Saturday.
Despite the respite, temperatures will remain about 30C and winds are still gusting, meaning the danger lingers and fires show no sign of relenting.There are 19 active fires across Victoria and 1500 firefighters remain on the job.
Country Fire Authority chief officer Steve Warrington said firefighters will now move into each danger zone to track the fires.
“There is very, very active fire right in the middle of this that will continue to burn for some weeks if not months,” he said today.
“Moving through January and February any new starts we could potentially have as well – we need to get on top of those as quickly as we possibly can.”
Four men have died as a result of the fires, and 340 residential properties and 532 non-residential structures have been destroyed or significantly impacted.
A 46-year-old man from Alexandra was charged today with dangerous driving causing the death of the state’s third bushfire victim, on-duty Forest Fires Management worker Mat Kavanagh, 43.
The accused man had been fighting for life in hospital after the collision on the Goulburn Valley Highway at Thornton on January 3, which also injured a 47-year-old ute driver.
The Alexandra man has been remanded to appear in court on April 28.
Wonthaggi father of two Bill Slade, 60, was working at the edge of a fire at Anglers Rest, near Omeo, when he was struck by a tree on Saturday, becoming the fourth fatal victim of the fires.
Visibility has been reduced to about 500m in East Gippsland and about five kilometres in Melbourne due to smoke from fires in the state’s far east and NSW.
State government grants totalling almost $9 million have been given to Victorians to date.
Premier Daniel Andrews today said this fire season was “far from over”.
“With such a big fire edge pushing up to almost 1.4 million hectares so early on, we have a couple of months of very, very challenging conditions,” he said in fire-ravaged Corryong.
“We have a long, long way to go.”