Updated 3.15pm 24/1/13:
ALL agencies involved with the response to the Aberfeldy-Donnellys fire have urged all residents and land owners south and east of the fire area to prepare given the expected strengthening winds and high temperatures predicted for Thursday and Friday.
The message applies to areas including Erica, Rawson, Walhalla, Heyfield, Maffra, Glengarry, Toongabbie, Coongulla, Newry and surrounding districts,
Upper winds (1000 metres above sea level) will increase from 10pm Thursday night. These winds are predicted to be 20-25 kilometres an hour from the north-north west.
From midnight, winds are expected to be 35kmhour north-north west, and slowly build continuously overnight to 6am.
After this, constant 55km north-north west winds are predicted until the south west change at around 3pm Friday afternoon.
Under these conditions, the southern edge of the fire could breach control lines.
On the Gippsland Plains, the afternoon south westerly change is expected earlier. It is expected to turn south-south westerly to 35km/h per hour, until 7pm, where it is expected to change south easterly overnight Friday night Saturday morning.
Incident controller Dennis Matthews said a predicted south-westerly wind change Friday morning would present challenges for firecrews.
“There’s a chance that on Friday morning the people to the south and the eastern side of the fire may find there is some (fire) activity,” he said.
He said a change in fire activity during hours of darkness would limit the amount of work crews could do to fight the fire.
Residents in bushfire areas should be aware for the potential of these fires to spread and the importance of keeping up to date with local warnings and advice. It is extremely important heading into these severe fire conditions that you keep on top of weather and fire conditions.
Residents have been told to decide what their trigger to leave was and not to wait until it was too late.
Don’t rely on just one source for information, visit the CFA website, phone the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667, listen to emergency broadcasters; ABC radio, commercial radio and designated community radio stations and Sky News, and follow CFA via Twitter (@cfa_updates) and Facebook (/cfavic) or the FireReady app.
The Country Fire Authority emphasises that people must prepare their property. Properties need to be well prepared and people need to be physically and mentally capable in order to stay and defend their property.
The safest option is to leave, and to leave early so people are not placed at risk.
Those who plan to leave then need to decide when to leave, where to go, how to will get there and when to return. Some things to take when leaving are: medication, protective clothing, drinking water, personal identity documents, mobile phone charger, battery powered radio, change of clothes and personal hygiene items.
Those who plan to stay and defend their property are to make sure their fire pumps and generators have been tested to ensure they are in good working order (always use fresh fuel), make sure fire hoses reach around the entire house and that they are not perished or have holes, have plenty of drinking water and food at hand, check the first aid kit and battery radio and make sure there is good quality protective clothing (long sleeved shirts and trousers) as well as sturdy boots and a wide brimmed hat. Gloves and goggles should be worn as well.
If the Aberfeldy-Donnelly fire breaches control lines, fire agencies will be putting pre-planned contingency arrangements in place and will give highest priority to warning local communities about potential fire spread and impacts.In fast-moving emergencies you may not always receive a warning or a recommendation to evacuate.
A number of roads in the Licola, Seaton and Aberfeldy areas remain closed. There is limited access for local residents.
For injured animals phone Animal Aid Victoria on 1300 094 535.
For small animals phone the Wellington Shire pound 5144 5940, while large animals can be taken to the Sale Showgrounds.