A SEVERE fire danger rating and forecast high of 40 degrees in Bendigo today looms as one of the worst days of bushfire danger in years, authorities have warned.
With a total fire ban declared, the City of Greater Bendigo’s emergency management co-ordinator Karen Marini said fire crews and other agencies were on standby for a major emergency response.
Ms Marini said the dry conditions and extreme heat posed the biggest test for emergency services since Black Saturday.
“All agencies are preparing for an extremely severe period,” she said.
“We’ve got measures in place to respond to any incident that arises.
“From all forecasts and conditions, this will be similar to Black Saturday.”
With today signalling the start of a heatwave, the forecast maximum temperature of 40 degrees would be the hottest day since January 12, 2011, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The temperature will continue to hover close to 40 degrees in Bendigo until next Wednesday before a weak change will drop the mercury to the low 30s, duty forecaster Cameron Henderson said.
Ms Marini said an emergency control centre was ready to be set up immediately if any large bushfires needed added resources.
“We’ll monitor sites, looking at weather and incidents out there,” she said.
“If it goes to extreme danger or in case of an emergency we’ll establish the municipal emergency control centre.
“We’ve got generators on standby and equipment ready to go.”
A firefighting helicopter is in place in Bendigo, as part of a trial period this summer.
Fire spotters will also operate at all seven Department of Sustainability fire towers in the Murray Goldfields region, including One Tree Hill tower.
City of greater Bendigo acting chief executive Marg Allan urged residents to keep up to date with weather and fire conditions.
“It is vital for people to prepare in advance so they can keep themselves and their families safe,” Ms Allan said.
“For those living in fire prone areas, it is important to re-familiarise yourselves with your fire plans and be ready to enact them if asked to do so by the CFA.”
The Northern Country and North Central regions are on severe fire danger index today, while parts of Central and Western Victoria are in extreme danger ratings.