CODE RED: Too late to leave for beseiged Victorians
A second emergency warning has been issued for an out of control grassfire at Strathallan, in the Goulburn Valley region.
Residents of Bonn, Fairy Dell, Nanneella, Rochester, Strathallan and Timmering have been told it is "too late to leave."
"The grassfire is travelling in a south-easterly direction towards Webb Road, east of Rochester," the emergency warning said.
"You are in danger, act now to protect yourself. It is too late to leave. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately."
It comes amid another Emergency Warning which has been issued for an out of control fire at Firmans Rd in Mount Glasgow, 50km north of Ballarat, with residents being told it is too late to leave.
Residents of Clunes, Dunach, Evansford, Glengower, Mount Cameron, Mount Glasgow, Red Lion, Stony Creek have been told the grassfire is travelling in a southerly direction towards Dunach.
"You are in danger, act now to protect yourself," the alert said.
"It is too late to leave. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately."
There is a bushfure at Firmans Rd in Mount Glasgow that is not yet under control.
It is travelling in a southerly direction towards Mount Glasgow.
The State Control Centre said: "Staying close to a building you can shelter in is the safest option as conditions can change suddenly."
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Today has been declared a code red day for the Mallee and Northern Country districts due to extreme bushfire danger with residents in those areas urged to evacuate ahead of time.
Parts of Melbourne have been left without power and unable to turn on fans and air conditioners after a major blackout in the state's west.
The Department of Health and Human Services has forecast a moderate risk of thunderstorm asthma for Victoria, while Melbourne's pollen count is rated as extreme.
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Frances Matthyssen from Red Lion which is 6km from the Mount Glasgow fire said she was "quite scared" and "nervous" following the emergency warning.
"It is a shocking feeling," she said.
"We are well prepared, our plan is to get out and head straight to Maryborough, the opposite way to the fire.
"Everything is packed. I have photos, insurance papers and birth certificates as well as a change of clothes for everyone."
Ms Matthyssen owns a 10 acre hobby farm with her husband and said this was the first time in 19 years there had been a fire risk in her town.
CFA RESPOND TO MULTIPLE GRASS FIRES
It comes after the CFA have already responded to multiple grass fires this morning, one in Tynong North, one in Anakie, one in Keilor and another in Gisborne.
Firefighters were called to the Tynong North blaze about 6.30am, with eight trucks and pumpers responding and extinguishing the flames.
An earlier fire in Gisborne was quickly put out, with five trucks responding around 5.30am.
A 43-year-old man, who claims he was "unaware that it was a day of total fire ban" is expected to be charged on summons after he lit a bonfire in his Swan Hill backyard overnight.
Victoria Police Senior Sergeant Nicole Warner said officers were left "shaking their heads."
"The triple-0 call was made to emergency services after a resident observed smoke and flames coming from a rear residential backyard about 10.10pm," Snr Sgt Warner said.
"The fire, about one square metre in size and made up of bits of timber and rubbish, was quickly extinguished by fire authorities.
"Disappointingly and alarmingly the resident stated he was unaware that it was a day of total fire ban."
The grassfire on Geelong-Ballan Rd in Anakie was under control by emergency services at 10.30am, and the grassfire that broke out on Milburn Rd in Keilor has now been put out.
The fire came close to one property but was put out by the CFA before it caused any damage.
Fierce winds have ripped a tin roof off a building in Marlborough in the state's northwest.
There are reports three kids were evacuated from the damaged Barr St property and power lines may have been impacted.
MILDURA BLANKETED IN REST DUST
The Mildura township is currently covered in red dust as the high winds and scorching temperatures continue to wreak havoc in Victoria's north.
Malcolm Kalms from the Sandbar pub in Mildura said it was an "eerie" scene in the town.
Just outside Mildura heading to Coomealla pretty bad here huge winds gusting and 40c pic.twitter.com/eiSqT2AOLP— Gary (@LetsGetLost01) November 21, 2019
"There is lots of dust, lots of brown cars, the wind has blown over all the chairs and tables," he said.
"The mall is completely empty, the whole street is empty, you can't walk around in it, it's terrible.
"It was a nice day until about 12.15pm, but then the dust storm came over like a big cloud.
"All the white cars are just brown. Everything went brown.
"We get two dust storms a week, but it's not usually this bad.
"The sky is brown. It is like the sun has set, like an eclipse.
"The sky is a real funny colour. It's a weird feeling, it was a bit eerie."
The Bureau of Meteorology said a wind change moved through Mildura at midday.
"Temperatures dropped 8 degrees in 30 minutes as winds shifted westerly," a spokesman said.
"Dust continues to be a problem.
"Prevailing visibility at the airport has fallen from 4km to 500m."
HOMES LEFT WITHOUT POWER
The cause is under investigation and the estimated restoration time is 4.30pm today.
A CitiPower and Powercor spokeswoman said strong winds are impacting power to about 3600 customers across the western part of the state.
"We are monitoring conditions and have extra crews on board to respond and restore power as safely and quickly as possible," the spokeswoman said.
"The areas most impacted at the moment are in the Pyramid Hills and Winchelsea areas.
"We will keep customers updated via our website and call centre.
"Stay well clear of fallen power lines and report them immediately to your network provider."
PowerCor's website estimates the restoration time as being around midday.
Elsewhere, more than 300 homes in Cheltenham are without power as of 10.30am.
United Energy said the cause was under investigation and those homes could expect power restoration about 2pm.
The cause of much of the blackout is under investigation, while others have been hit by strong winds.
Areas include: Wyndham Vale, Altona Meadows, Truganina, Ravenhall, Mount Coterell, Deer Park, Taylors Hill, Caroline Springs, Deer Park, Cairnlea, Delahey, Burnside, Melton South, Brookfield, Hoppers Crossing and Eynsbury.
A power outage has also hit customers in Glen Waverley and Box Hill, with more than 680 customer currently impacted.
Commuters are also being warned to plan ahead with the hot weather likely to affect train timetables across the state.
The Premier said the weather conditions would impact power in some areas with wind placing "stress" on energy infrastructure.
"This is a day of very high wind and we will have poles and wires that get tripped, we will have debris that cuts cross the path of various transmission lines and I am advised you will have local power outages.
"Nothing to do with the amount of power we have got it's much more about the network."
CBD TRAM OUTAGE AMID MORNING PEAK
Trains on the Williamstown line have been suspended.
Buses will replace trains between North Melbourne and Williamstown due to an overhead power fault at Newport.
Metro Trains said buses have been ordered but may take over 15 minutes to arrive and commuters should consider alternative transport options.
Daniel Andrews confirmed buses will replace V/Line services on the Shepparton and Swan Hill to avoid the risk of sparks starting fires.
Buses are replacing trains on parts of the Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland and Seymour lines due to the code red warning.
VLine issued a statement last night, saying "journey times may be extended and some services replaced by coaches for all or part of the journey."
Tram services along on Bourke, Swanston and La Trobe streets are back running normally after a metal sheet fell atop power lines in Bourke Street, forcing power to be cut as Yarra Trams assess the situation.
AUSTRALIA 108 CONSTRUCTION HALTED
Wild winds have shut down construction on Melbourne's tallest skyscraper, Australia 108.
Builder Multiplex ordered works shut down as high winds made it too dangerous to continue at the more than 300m tall construction site.
The stop work order comes the same day as the sky-high development's backers World Class Global revealed it was now the tallest tower in Melbourne, with the roof core effectively at its full 317m height.
Work is expected to recommence once conditions improve.
Last month a pipe pumping concrete to the top of the tower exploded under high pressure.
Witnesses said construction workers were sprayed with "concrete bullets" in the freak accident..
HEAT AND WILD WINDS TO CONTINUE
Senior Forecaster from the Bureau of Meteorology Rod Dixon said as of 12pm, the Melbourne CBD was sitting on 36C.
Temperatures across Melbourne's suburbs included 38.5C at Avalon, 36C at Geelong, 37C at Laverton and 37.5C at Moorabbin.
Across the rest of the state, temperatures had surpassed 40C.
The hottest part of the state as of 12pm was Bairnsdale which had hit 41.1C.
It had hit 41C in Charlton, Hopeton and Swan Hill, while in Mildura it was 40.1C.
Mr Dixon said the cool change was already starting to move in the western parts of the Mallee.
"Already in South Australia temperatures have dropped to the mid 20s," he said.
"They have also dropped along the coast down in the state's far southwest around Portland."
The mercury dropped to just 26 degrees on Thursday morning about 6.15am, making for a hot and restless night.
Keris Arndt, Senior Forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the temperature was just shy of a record.
"It was definitely one of the warmest nights on record," Mr Arndt said.
"Most of the night was around 28 to 29 in the city and it did look like it was going to be a record.
"But it dropped at about 6.18am to a low of 26 degrees."
It's the first time since 2010 authorities have enacted a code red and firefighters warn they will not be able to control blazes once they take hold in high-risk areas.
The SES had received 265 requests for assistance from midnight to 12pm today.
138 of those jobs had been completed while 127 were still ongoing.
Of those total requests, 89 had been received between 11am and 12pm.
The SES said the jobs had been spread across the state and there was no particular hotspot.
Most of the calls had been made for fallen trees.
A day of total fire ban has been declared across Victoria - the first time this year it has been in place statewide.
WARNING FOR NORTHERN VICTORIA RESIDENTS
Premier Daniel Andrews said schools and services had been shutdown in the north as a matter of safety.
"If a fire were to take hold in any of those communities Code Red means that our experts are telling us they simply wouldn't be able to contain that fire," he said.
"This is going to be a long and challenging day for our fire services.
"It's really important that residents right throughout the Mallee and the northern country districts heed those warnings."
Minister for Infrastructure Jacinta Allan who is from the Bendigo region said her family had followed warnings and had left their home to stay in town as a safety precaution.
"We live in a heavily bushed area and it's a beautiful part of the world, but it does come with risk on days like today.
"We sat down with our two young kids last night and talked about the need to pack bags and to have things ready to go at short notice."
She urged all Victorians to take precautions.
In the Mallee and Northern Country Districts, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp urged residents on Wednesday to leave immediately and spend the day elsewhere,
"If you do not need to be in your home on a day like that, you should not be. You should look at getting out first thing (Wednesday night) or first thing (Thursday)," he said.
Some schools and early childhood centres will be closed on Thursday as a result of the fire danger.
The period of highest fire risk was expected to be between 11am and 3pm.
During that four-hour window, fires would be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving, Mr Crisp said.
He said fire crews would find fires difficult to control and there was a high likelihood people in their path would be killed or seriously injured.
"These are potentially the worst conditions we've confronted for quite some time," he said.
Mr Crisp said conditions in parts of the state were comparable to the Black Saturday 2009 disaster.
The difference was the Black Saturday fire risk applied for the entire state, whereas Thursday's severe warning was specific to the Mallee and Northern Country districts.
CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said the deadly bushfires ravaging New South Wales highlighted how quickly blazes can turn into "campaign" fires.
Victorian crews would be doing all they can to avoid a similar situation, he said.
"We want to lock the state down and make sure there are no new fire starts," he said.
"We will hit fires hard and fast and make sure they don't turn into campaign fires. We cannot afford for this country to have more campaign fires."
Hot, dry and windy conditions are expected for much of the state after oppressive heat overnight.
Train commuters were warned there will be bus replacements across some regional areas with V/Line services running to an extreme heat timetable.
The Weather Bureau said Shepparton and Echuca in the state's north would hit 42C on Thursday, while Melbourne would get to 39C before a welcome cool change reaches the city about 3pm.
"We are looking at a dramatic drop in temperature, potentially 15C-20C in just an hour," the bureau's Michael Efron said.
Damaging winds are due to hit the Bayside area, with gusts reaching up to 100kmh.
People in high-risk fire areas looking to leave home were advised to consider going to their nearest regional centre, the movies, a swimming pool or shopping centre.