Australia

Cooler weather brings reprieve in Victorian bushfire battle

Firefighters battled more than 60 fires around the state, many of them caused by lightning. Source: AAP

Record-breaking temperatures and high speeds winds have firefighters trying to contain more that 60 blazes all across Victoria.

As record-breaking temperatures and 100km/h winds picked up in Victoria, firefighters battled more than 60 blazes on a scorching day.

Firefighters managed to control all blazes late on Thursday evening, with a cooler weather shift into Friday helping calm all the fires.

The state's highest bushfire warning - Code Red - had been issued for central and northwestern parts of the state and a total fire ban put the whole state in lockdown.

"The worst conditions you'd see in February or March, we have seen today", Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville told reporters on Thursday.

"This shows us what the risks will be in summer around Victoria, so we still have a long way to go to be ready."

Melbourne broke a 100-year-old record at 40.9C and temperatures tipped well into the 40s in Mallee and the northern towns of the state.

A fire near Ballarat that was at emergency level was also downgraded to a "watch and act" warning.

The fire was heading towards Dunac, but water-bombing from helicopters and aircraft helped contain it.

"It was horrific almost, there was branches coming down all over the place, the wind was blowing, it was hot," farmer Tom Davies told AAP from Dunac.

"For a fire day you wouldn't have got much worse."

Farmer Tom Davies sprays water onto smouldering bushland at Mount Glasgow, Victoria.
Farmer Tom Davies sprays water onto smouldering bushland at Mount Glasgow, Victoria.
AAP

Mr Davies has lived and worked in the Dunac area all his life, but can't remember another day like this ever happening so early in the summer.

"No, I don't think so. For a serious fire like we've just had, I think this would be about the earliest I've seen it," he said.

"Generally you don't get a day like we've just had until after Christmas."

More than 1000 requests for assistance were registered by Victoria State Emergency Service, the majority for trees down.

More than 80,000 customers were left without power in the western part of the state, with Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat hardest hit, service provider Powercor said.

Crews responded to more than 22 fallen powerlines, and 130-plus separate faults across the state which were impacted by the extreme winds.

Weather is forecast to be milder during the weekend. The fire danger rating for Friday has been downgraded to high in the northern districts of the state, and low all across the southern regions.

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