‘Grave fears’ for 28 people

AUTHORITIES now hold “grave fears” for 28 people not accounted for in Victoria.

Two people are now confirmed deceased.

Premier Daniel Andrews warned Victoria faces difficult circumstances over the next couple of days, and people in areas likely to be affected by fire should leave.

“If you can leave, you must leave,” he said.

“We cannot guarantee your safety.”

People in areas to the north of Wellington Shire, including Dargo, Valencia Creek and Glenmaggie, were yesterday evening advised to leave last night or early this morning.

East Gippsland, Wellington, Mansfield, Wangarrata Rural, Towong and Alpine shires, as well as Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Mount Stirling alpine resorts, will fall under an unprecedented state of disaster, as they face previously unseen levels of risk to property and life.

The Bureau of Meteorology cannot recall a time that the level of humidity has been as low this early in summer as it will be this weekend – less than 10 per cent. With high temperatures and low humidity, emergency services are predicting fires to travel quite quickly at night, and lightning strikes in the east to spark more fires.

The declaration gives the government the powers and resources it needs to keep people safe, such as giving any government agency to do, or refrain from doing any function, power, duty or responsibility.

The state of disaster means the government the capacity to carry out evacuations orders, undertaken by Victoria Police. and compulsory take over of private property, for staging areas, to provide relief etc

Premier Andrews has endorsed the state of disaster for seven days.

“These fires are unprecedented in their size, their scale and the risk they pose right across affected communities,” he told a press conference in Melbourne last night.

The 50 going fires in the state are now more than 784,000 hectares in size.

Today (Friday) is a total fire ban day.

One thousand people left Mallacoota this morning, with 50 leaving last night.

Smoke is towering 1000 metres above east Gippsland, making it difficult for aircraft to manoeuvre around the area.