Smoke Haze To Hang Over Victoria For Days

Get used to it.


12 March 2019

Article heading image for Smoke Haze To Hang Over Victoria For Days

Smoke is set to hang over Victoria for days as firefighters take to ground and sky to control more than a dozen active blazes.

Fires are still scorching eastern and southern parts of the state which are proving challenging for firefighters to put out, with difficult terrain in the mix.

Victoria's State Response Controller Stephanie Rotarangi said on Sunday there was a significant amount of work for firefighters to do over the coming weeks.

"Controlling these fires is not easy. Some are burning in very difficult terrain, in hard to access areas and are also very large in size, such as the Licola fire at 64,000 hectares," she said.

"One of the most effective ways to control these fires is to do back burning. While we understand this means an increased level of smoke, it is an essential operation that is necessary to strengthen containment lines and protect communities."

Air quality levels around Melbourne could reach the "unhealthy sensitive" health category, while an air quality alert remains in place across Victoria due to smoke.

Environment Protection Authority chief environmental scientist Andrea Hinwood urged people exposed to smoke for days to take respite in places like shopping centres.

The state's highest risk bushfire in the Bunyip State Park, east of Melbourne, remains uncontrolled and has burnt more than 15,000 hectares.

Four bushfires in the state's east merged last Saturday to form the raging blaze which has since claimed 29 homes, damaged two others and destroyed 67 outbuildings.

Two homes have also been destroyed in Yinnar South in the Latrobe Valley.

More than 100,000 hectares of the state had been burnt since last Thursday.

The state government announced on Sunday that fire victims can access the state government's Case Support Program.

The program provides a single point of contact to coordinate services such as financial assistance, mental health support and services to repair or rebuild damaged properties.

"I know there are families who have lost everything and are suffering," Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said, noting the government stood with them for their recovery.

People can be connected to a case support worker by calling their local council, visiting one of the recovery centres in Bunyip or Morwell or by calling 1800 560 760.

Milder weather conditions over the long weekend are expected to assist firefighters.

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