At least four people are dead and 300 more have been evacuated after bushfires continue to burn out of control in North Cascade, Merivale and Cape Arid National Park in the Esperance Shire. Photo: Kate Sainty
An unusual orange tinge in Melbourne’s sky on Wednesday night is the result of the fires in Western Australia, almost 3000 kilometres away.
Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Peter Newham said the orange haze was caused by smoke blowing across the country.
“It’s been blown all the way from WA in the last day or so,” Mr Newham said.
“If you’re close to a small fire you’re going to see the same effect. This smoke comes from a long way away, so there needs to be a lot of it.”
Two women and two men have died after trying to drive to safety from the bushfires ravaging Esperance.
Mr Newham said Wednesday’s sunset may also be more striking than usual in Melbourne, as the sun passes through the smoke.
Meanwhile total fire bans have been declared in Victoria’s Mallee, Wimmera, northern country and north central fire weather districts on Thursday, with roasting temperatures forecast.
Extreme fire danger is forecast for the Mallee, while severe fire danger is forecast for the other three areas. The CFA says the central fire region, which includes Melbourne and Geelong, can also expect very high fire danger, along with the south-west, north-east, west and South Gippsland regions.
Mr Newham said Mildura, the hottest part of the state, was forecast to hit 44 degrees on Thursday, just shy of the November record for the area set in 2012.
“It’s going to be windy and pretty miserable up there,” he said.
CFA chief officer Joe Buffone said fire authorities were bracing for a dangerous fire day, particularly in the western and central parts of the state.
“We’ve seen several days of hot dry weather which has dried out the grass lands to the point they are now ready to burn,” Mr Buffone said.
“There is no excuse for lighting a fire in these conditions, and all fires which have are already burning must be fully extinguished.”
Melbourne is set to hit a more sedate 32 degrees on Thursday, before a cool change sweeps through around midday.