Australia

Vic fire threat escalates with cool change

Friday could be another 'horror day' for Vic firefighters with extreme heat and strong winds. (AAP)

Authorities have warned people in Victoria's northeast and East Gippsland region to stay alert through the evening as the bushfire threat escalates.

People in Victoria's bushfire-ravaged northeast and East Gippsland region are being warned to remain vigilant throughout the evening as a cool change heightens threats.

Strong southwesterly winds of 70km/h to 100km/h as well as about 10mm of rain are expected to hit the area on Friday evening, making it the most challenging time for firefighters.

"The change will be unstable, there will be high winds, particularly in that northeastern alpine country, we'll see very erratic fire activity," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters.

"These next few hours are going to be very, very challenging,"

While the change will move through by morning, the premier warned residents to stay alert and to heed warnings.

"We have nobody who is unaccounted for, we have no further people that have died and we have no further communities that have been cut off," Mr Andrews said.

"Now, all of those things can change, and that perhaps is the most powerful reminder that we have to remain vigilant.

"If you are told to leave a community, and you can leave, then you should leave. It's the least we can all do to support those that are putting their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe."

Ten emergency alerts, the highest-possible level, are currently in place while one evacuation message remains for those in Bennies, Cheshunt South, Markous, Rose River, Top Crossing, Upper Rose River and Wabonga Platea.

Earlier evacuation messages for people in other alpine towns including Mount Buffalo have now been replaced with emergency warnings as it is too late to safely leave

A further 11 watch-and-act warnings are also in place in the region.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the three areas of most concern are Mount Buffalo, Cann River and Bruthen and Buchan.

"Today is not over. We know that it is the lead-up to the change, the change and post-change, is where the real risk is for us," he said.

"What has worked in our favour - we haven't had a lot of new starts today."

Mr Crisp said a huge smoke column had sprouted from the Cann River fire and he is worried about spotting going into the Buckland Valley in Bright and the Wandiligong Valley.

It is also highly likely fires on the NSW border will join with fires in that state.

There are 21 fires burning across the state and more than 1.3 million hectares have been burnt since November 21.

The fires have killed three men, while 286 homes and 400 other buildings have been damaged.

Forest Fires Management worker Mat Kavanagh, 43, died when his vehicle crashed on the Goulburn Valley Highway on January 3.

Mick Roberts from Buchan and Maramingo Creek man Fred Becker were killed in the fires at East Gippsland on New Year's Day.

Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said she was aware of the fatigue many people are experiencing but warned the fires will continue to burn for weeks to come.

"It is still only January ... we've got a long way to go," she said.

"We're here to do it with you and we're here to support the communities as they recover. But please, continue to be vigilant and not get complacent."

Victoria's state of disaster declaration has been extended into the weekend and a total fire ban is in place for the Mallee, Northern Country, North Central, North East, East Gippsland, West and South Gippsland.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch