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High temps, winds test Victorian firefighters

Monday December 24, 2012 - 15:21 EDT

Strong winds are testing firefighters who are continuing to battle a large number of blazes across Victoria.

Many were started by lightning strikes last night, but most have now been contained.

The most recent broke out about nine kilometres north of Mallacoota, in far east Gippsland.

It is burning out of control in a south-easterly direction, and residents in surrounding townships are being urged to monitor conditions closely.

There are four other fires burning in the Orbost and Swifts Creek areas.

At this stage, all the bushfires in Victoria are either under control or close to being contained.

But the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Alan Goodwin says the wind is still a concern.

"Fire conditions remain very dangerous in the north-east for today," he said.

"[There will be] high temperatures and [it'll be] quite windy before that change goes through.

"We want to make sure that campers are aware, people are aware of areas where they might be travelling to today to make sure that they're very much prepared for travelling through the state."

The fires come after the state sweltered through one of its hottest December nights in 50 years.

In Melbourne, the temperature dropped to 27.6 degrees around midnight before climbing again.

State duty officer Mick Harris says authorities are keeping a close eye on weather changes this afternoon.

"At the moment there's a south-westerly wind change just starting to move through the area and that has the potential to both move fires in a different direction but also increase the fire activity," he said.

"We've just been told that there's some thunderstorms working their way through that area as well, but it also means with there's a risk of some more small lightening strikes."


© ABC 2012

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