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Bushfire threat eased by heavy rain

Tuesday February 26, 2013 - 20:49 EDT

Victoria's long stretch of hot weather has come to an abrupt end as thunderstorms and a cool change brought rain to many parts of the state.

Fire authorities say it signals a major shift in the fire season and will bring relief to communities and firefighters who have been battling bushfires for weeks.

But the rain also has the potential to cause new emergencies, with severe thunderstorms, hail and flash flooding forecast for the next 24 hours.

The storms brought torrential rainfalls, with Ringwood and Glen Waverley, in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, recording up to 45 millimetres.

But the wet weather was a welcome sight for farmers in central Victoria.

David Johnson's property at Hunter, west of Elmore, received 32 millimetres of rain.

"[It will] certainly help fill the water tanks. It'll help settle the dust and put a bit of moisture in the subsoil, so pretty handy rain all round I'd say," he said.

The firefighters and residents who have spent the summer on alert for bushfires might also be able to breathe a little easier.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley says it is a turning point.

"We shouldn't take our eye off the ball but I think the today is a changing point in the fire season without a doubt," he said.

"The mild conditions are certainly welcomed and needed but we just have to be a little bit careful about what March might bring.

"It does change firefighting in Victoria significantly with this amount of rain that's either fallen or forecast."

But the state control centre could be turning its attention from fires to floods.

are in place for the state's north, north-east and Gippsland.

Kevin Parkyn from the weather bureau says the rain is not over yet particularly in the state's north-east.

"That risk [of flash flooding] will present itself again tomorrow when we see a cold front heralding the onset of some colder air from the southern ocean," he said.

"I know many people are looking forward to a cooler night. Hopefully they won't have to wait too much longer."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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