UPDATE 12.30pm: The fire danger rating for much of central Victoria has been upgraded to extreme for Thursday, with hot, windy conditions expected.
The fire danger for the Northern Country district, which encompasses Bendigo and Echuca, has risen from severe to extreme.
The North Central district, which includes Maryborough and Castlemaine, is facing a severe fire danger on Thursday, while the rating for the Central district, in which Kyneton sits, is very high.
The Bureau of Meteorology has also issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds for most of the state, including central Victoria.
EARLIER: MORE police will be out in force around Bendigo to crack down on reckless and intentional fires.
Bendigo is forecast to reach 37 degrees on Wednesday and 40 degrees on Thursday, while it is a total fire ban in the Mallee on Wednesday.
"Up around Bendigo, we will have additional police out on the back roads looking for that 'misadventurous' behaviour," Assistant Commissioner Michael Grainger said.
"You'll see police in campsites, for example, and around the rivers speaking to people about the chances of their behaviours causing catastrophic and destructive fires."
Police have boosted their efforts as part of Operation Safeguard, Assistant Commissioner Grainger said.
"We will be adopting a hard-line approach to any deliberately or recklessly caused bushfires," he said. "We will be relentless in gathering intelligence and investigating any fire deemed suspicious.
"It's everyone's responsibility to be mindful of their activities during fire danger periods, otherwise your actions could result in the cause of a bushfire."
Anyone found guilty of recklessly or intentionally causing a bushfire could face a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Lighting a fire on a total fire ban day could also attract a fine of up to $37,000 or up to two years in jail.
Bendigo Country Fire Authority commander Chris Jacobsen said people needed to be vigilant in the hot and windy conditions.
"Normal activities people do that are safe for seven to eight months of the year are no longer safe as the fuel dries out," he said.
"For example, campfires. During the winter it's not an issue, but if you don't use water to extinguish it in summer, then a change in wind direction could start a fire.
"Things like mowing lawns in the heat of the day is dangerous. You could hit rock or a piece of metal and that can spark a fire.
"It's about making sure people alter their activities. Depending on the day, what you think might be harmless could result in a major fire.
"I urge all people to be mindful of any activity they undertake."
Commander Jacobsen said as temperatures rose, people needed to be smart and prepared.
"It's about having a plan for what to do on these sorts of fire days," he said. "Remove flammable material from around the house and limit travel on days of severe or extreme fire danger."
Extreme heat will also disrupt public transport on Wednesday, with V/Line services from Southern Cross to Swan Hill terminating at Bendigo.
Coaches will replace trains from Bendigo to Swan Hill.
Trains will operate as normal between Melbourne and Bendigo.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.