Australia Wildfire Map Update: Fire Weather Warnings Issued as Victoria Residents Told to Evacuate

Wildfires are lighting up the Australian landscape with the state of Victoria set to battle bushfires throughout the evening and night.

A fire weather warning has been issued for Mallee, Northern County, and the northeast of Victoria, by the Bureau of Meteorology, due to hot conditions and gusty winds. Issued today, the warning says that the northeast of the state is experiencing "extreme fire danger" with Mallee and Northern County under "severe fire danger."

Vic Emergency has also issued a warning for people to "evacuate now" if they are located in Bennies, Cheshunt South, Markous, Rose River, Top Crossing, Wabonga and Upper Rose River, due to a bushfire 8 kilometers east southeast of Abbeyard. According to the alert, the wildfire has "escaped on the western flank" and is not contained. It is forecast that "strong northwesterly winds" will push the fire in a southeasterly direction.

Victoria Fire Warning Map
Fire warning map as of 8:05 p.m. AEDT shows "evacuate now" alert in red and black. Vic Emergency

"Due to severe weather conditions and fire danger over the next 24 hours, we advise people in the area to evacuate now," the alert says. Any evacuation after 2:00 p.m. local time was considered too late and life-threatening.

Relief centers have been set up at:

  • Wangaratta Relief Centre at the Performing Arts Centre, Ford Street, Wangaratta
  • Wangaratta Sports Development Centre at the Wangaratta Showgrounds, Evans St Wangaratta
  • Latchford Barracks, 81 Bonegilla Rd, Bonegilla
  • For pets, trailers and caravans go to Wangaratta Showgrounds, Evans St Wangaratta
  • If you have stock, go to Wangaratta Saleyards, 99 Shanley St Wangaratta

People in affected areas are encouraged to register with the Red Cross using https://register.redcross.org.au/ or by calling 1800 727 077 to let people know you are safe.

In New South Wales, there are telecommunication outages in the area of Jingellic, east of Albury, as a fire over 233,00 hectares in size is blazing. The alert by New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) advised that due to the outage, people might be unable to contact Triple Zero (000), receive emergency alert telephone messages or access the internet.

People in Lankeys Creek and River Road are at risk from the fire and should seek shelter as the fire approaches.

A bushfire is also burning in the Westbrook Road, Ellerslie/Tarcutta area. The fire is currently over 313,000 hectares in size and is out of control, according to NSW RFS. This is due to a southerly change moving across the area, causing erratic fire behavior. The fire is burning towards the areas of Ournie, Mannus and Tumbarumba, and smoke and embers might be experienced in the area of Mount Adrah and Tumblong.

NSW Map Update January 10 2020
The map shows red "emergency fire" warnings for areas in New South Wales as of 8:00 p.m. AEDT. Yellow indicates "watch and act" alerts and blue means "advice." Google Maps / NSW RFS

Anyone located on the southern side of the fire, south of the Murray River, will need to monitor the Vic Emergency website for updates, according to the alert. The fire spread prediction map can also be used to see potential fire spread and the communities that may come under threat from embers or fire fronts.

NSW RFS advises the following if you are threatened by fire:

  • Do not be in the path of the fire
  • Protect yourself from the heat of the fire—wear protective clothing and footwear and cover all exposed skin
  • If the fire impacts, seek shelter in a solid structure to protect yourself from the heat of the fire
  • If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000)
  • If you are in an area that has already been affected by fire, there may be small areas of active fire burning for some time. Be aware of the dangers of trees and branches falling

All access roads into Victoria have also been closed and people are being advised not to leave from New South Wales.

Temperature Friday Australia BoM
The map from the Bureau of Meteorology shows that temperatures will enter the 40s degrees Celsius towards the east of the country. Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau of Meteorology has also issued fire weather warnings for today for the following:

  • Extreme Fire Danger is forecast for the Southern Slopes
  • Severe Fire Danger is forecast for the Monaro Alpine, Southern Ranges and Eastern Riverina
  • Very High Fire Danger is forecast for Illawarra/Shoalhaven, Far South Coast, Central Ranges, North Western and Northern Riverina

Air quality advice has also been issued for Victoria, due to smoke from the bushfires. According to the warning, smoke from bushfires in Eastern Victoria and New South Wales is currently affecting air quality across most of the state, which can "aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and cause irritated eyes, coughing and wheezing."

A detailed forecast for the districts is below:

  • North East Weather District: Periods of poor to very poor air quality most likely in the evenings through to Monday, January 13, 2020. Improved air quality is expected on the weekend with southwesterly winds.
  • East Gippsland Weather District: Very poor to hazardous air quality in areas close to fires today. Air quality is expected to improve with southwesterly winds over the weekend but poor to very poor is likely.
  • West and South Gippsland Weather District: Poor to very poor air quality is likely today. Air quality is expected to improve to "good" with southwesterly winds over the weekend.
  • Central Weather District: Poor to very poor air quality today is expected to improve to "good" with the southwesterly change. Good air quality is expected through to Monday.
  • North Central Weather District: Poor to very poor air quality today is expected to improve to "good" with the southwesterly change. Good air quality is expected through to Monday.
  • Mallee Weather District: Good to moderate air quality through to Monday.
  • South West Weather District: Good air quality is expected through to Monday.
  • Wimmera Weather District: Good air quality is expected through to Monday.
  • Northern Country Weather District: Good to moderate air quality is expected over the next few days. Southwesterly winds over the weekend will push smoke away from the region improving air quality. Easterlies on Monday may push some smoke into the region, impacting air quality.

Where the air quality is at hazardous levels due to smoke, everyone, especially those in sensitive groups, should consider temporarily relocating outside the smoke-affected area until there is a sustained improvement in air quality, according to Vic Emergency. If this is not possible and there is no direct threat from bushfires, stay indoors and keep activity levels as low as possible.

If the maximum visibility is 1.5 kilometers or less, your air quality is considered hazardous and you need to limit your time outdoors, limit exercise and follow any treatment plans.

People have also been advised not to travel to East Gippsland, Alpine Regions or North East Victoria as there are significant fires burning, which are threatening lives and property. A "state of disaster" has been declared. According to the Herald Sun, the Premier, Daniel Andrews, said the most challenging time for firefighters will be throughout this evening as the southwesterly change sweeps through the Alpine and northeast of the state. According to the newspaper, there are still 21 fires burning, and 1.3 million hectares burnt.

For readers who would like to support the efforts in tackling the Australian wildfires, there are ways to help. Yesterday, social media users worldwide used #KoalaChlamydia to raise awareness of the wildfires and the animals that have also been affected.

Australia Wildfire Map Update: Fire Weather Warnings Issued as Victoria Residents Told to Evacuate | U.S.