Fire Storm - Australian Wildfires - Fire Fighters Injured
Australian Wildfires - Still Burning - Fire Fighters Injured
All images and words in this article Copyright © 2009 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
O Victorian fire authorities are already warning a bushfire north of Yarram, in the state's Gippsland region, could burn for days.
Today the bushfire threat in the state has increased to urgent levels, and the official death toll rose to 210 after a resident of Strathewen, north-east of Melbourne, died in hospital.
The CFA has alerted residents east of Carrajung Woodside Rd, between Starling Road and Pogues Road, that they are under direct threat from the Yarram fire.
• Victorian Bushfire Hotline: 1800 240 667
• Red Cross - missing persons: 1800 727 077
Three firefighters have been injured, one with serious burns, and a house and two fire trucks have been engulfed in blazes around the state so far today.
Authorities say the progress of the fire north of Yarram will largely depend on the wind tonight.
A south-westerly change late this afternoon caused flare-ups in the Churchill-Jeeralang fireground, and there are growing concerns they could soon spread Video: Bushfire threat flares up again (ABC News)to the Mullundung forest.
An urgent threat message has been issued and the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Heyfield incident controller, Laurie Jeremiah, says residents between Woodside North and Carrajung are most at risk.
"They certainly need to activate their fire plan for their properties," he said.
Kevin Monk from the Department of Sustainability and Environment has told ABC Radio's PM program that there are fires in the Musk Vale area, north-west of Melbourne.
"That fire's burning rather quickly; it just increased in size to about 250 hectares in a short time and there are communities in the vicinity of Musk Vale," he said.
"That fire's causing some concern to firefighters and again we put out threat messages to a number of communities around that fire area."
He said the Musk Vale and Daylesford fires both started this afternoon.
One resident, Ana Whitehouse, describes how embers from one of the fires are falling onto her property, south-east of Daylesford.
"[There is] a lot of smoke... the visibility, we're still clear but heavy heavy smoke and black embers are flying over now," she said.
"We're busy stomping out some embers around our property but there's just black embers starting to come.
"You can see them falling through the sky, there are bits of bark and stuff, it's just black."
Two new relief centres have been set up in Melbourne's outer east, near some of the fires.
The relief centres have opened in Kilsyth and Ferntree Gully to accommodate residents who have fled from the blaze near Belgrave.
Thick smoke is visible from the centres, partly obscuring nearby Mount Dandenong.
Fifteen kilometres away in Lilydale, another relief centre is caring for hundreds of Yarra Valley and Warburton residents who have left their homes.
Donna Downing of Warburton says she has been on edge for a fortnight and decided to seek refuge last night.
"Smoke has been there, you hear the helicopters flying over ... it takes it toll," she said.
More evacuees are expected to arrive at the centres throughout the evening.
Victoria's Deputy Police Commissioner, Kieran Walshe, is concerned that roads in the fire-affected areas are becoming dangerous.
"There is a lot of movement on the roads," he said.
"We've had reports of people running red lights, and we've also had some reports of motor vehicle collisions.
"What I'd like to get across is to please remain calm.
"There's smoke in the area and there's a lot of traffic, and we need to make sure that people drive in a safe manner."
Firefighters are continuing their battle against a 19,000-hectare blaze at Wilsons Promontory that continues to move towards Tidal River.
Upwey, Belgrave area
A sudden change in wind direction has driven the fire towards communities in the Dandenong Ranges, and three firefighters have been injured in blazes today.
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) says the communities of Upwey, Tecoma, Belgrave Heights, Belgrave South and Belgrave may be directly affected by the blaze.
It has been reported that a property has been lost at Belgrave Heights in the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne.
The fire near Upwey is close to the Cardinia Reservoir.
But Andrew McGuinness from Melbourne Water says its storages are safe.
"Cardinia is primarily a holding reservoir, which means it doesn't receive any run-off really from its surrounding area," he said.
"And for that reason it's a very safe place for us to put large amounts of water so that it won't be affected any bushfire contaminants that might enter other reservoirs."
The CFA says containment lines near the Yarra Valley town of Warburton are holding.
Mr Monk said the fire burning near Warburton is close to the fire-devastated Healesville, which was razed in the Black Saturday bushfires two weeks ago.
"We've got crews working in there," he said.
"We've had crews and aircraft stationed to protect the communities of Warburton and along the upper Yarra Valley.
"And fortunately from good work there's been no spot fires impacting on the Warburton community today."
Jeff Conway of the CFA says the town is not under direct threat at this stage.
"There have been some flare-ups and quite a lot of smoke in the area today, but there's been no significant spotovers," he said.
"So we're very pleased about that but we've still got an anxious wait.
"There's northerly winds forecast again for Friday so we certainly can't say that that problem is resolved."
But the DSE's Stuart Ord says there is still plenty of work to do to keep the town safe.
"We do know that there is still fire sitting above the Warburton valley, so we can't pretend that we're home and hosed, that the problem is finished, because it hasn't," he said.
"We've still got fire north of the valley."
All images and words in this article Copyright © 2009 Australian Broadcasting Corporation http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/08/2485648.htm