Four bushfires in Victoria’s east have joined into a raging blaze putting lives and homes at risk with winds fuelling the out-of-control fire.
The fires merged at Bunyip State Park near Tonimbik about 65km east of Melbourne causing a blaze about 3400 hectares in size, Incident Controlller Ivan Smith said on Saturday.
An emergency warning has been issued with residents told it’s too late to leave.
The warning applies to Bunyip, Bunyip North, Cornucopia, Garfield, Garfield North, Gembrook, Gentle Annie, Labertouche, Longwarry, Longwarry North, Maryknoll, Nar Nar Goon, Nar Nar Goon North, Tonimbuk, Tynong and Tynong North.
About 300 firefighters and emergency workers are fighting the blaze which was started by multiple lightning strikes on March 1, Mr Smith said.
Air support is attempting to tackle the blaze and local Country Fire Authority crews are being supported by additional resources including bulldozers and graders.
Another bushfire at Budgeree in the Latrobe Valley area has prompted an emergency warning.
“Communities listed could be impacted anytime within the next six hours as the wind direction changes,” the warning states.
Residents have been urged to leave now and a relief centre is open at Kernot Hall in Morwell.
Farther east, a bushfire at Dargo was downgraded on Saturday, but a Watch and Act warning remains.
Dargo was expected to be hit by bushfires on Saturday afternoon but reduced weather conditions and water bombers have helped reduced the severity of the fires.
Residents have been told leaving is still the safest option and to take Dargo Road and head towards Sale.
A total fire ban has been declared across Victoria for Sunday with the weather bureau expecting another hot and dry day with temperatures in the 40s for the north of the state.
“This is the hottest start to autumn in 30 years, following the hottest summer on record,” senior forecaster Tom Delamotte said.
“The forecast is for very hot temperatures continuing for the rest of the weekend without much relief from the heat overnight.This means that if we have fires in the landscape they could challenge firefighters,” he said.