Emergency alerts sparked by flaring fire activity overnight have been downgraded as weather conditions in Victoria’s east take a milder turn.
Fires at Abbeyard in the high country and at Timboon in East Gippsland were both at emergency alerts early on Monday morning, but by 9am both had been downgraded.
Milder conditions are expected to last throughout the week, with rain developing in the state’s east on Wednesday and extending at least until Saturday.
Despite the respite, temperatures will hover about 30C and winds are still gusting, meaning the danger lingers and the fires show no sign of relenting.
“These fires aren’t out and they’re not going to be out until they out themselves out or we finish with a really big rain event,” Premier Daniel Andrews told KIIS FM on Monday.
“And the weather bureau’s not telling us that’s likely.”
There are 19 active fires across Victoria, including one at Corryong in the northeast which has merged with a fire in NSW at the weekend.
While hundreds of properties and structures have been lost to the fires, so have the lives of four men.
Wonthaggi father of two Bill Slade, 60, was working at the edge of a fire at Angers Rest, near Omeo, when he was struck by a tree on Saturday, becoming the fourth death.
Mr Slade had worked on major fire incidents in the past including the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.
“Bill was a much-loved colleague, friend and member of the Wonthaggi community. He’ll be sorely missed by Parks Victoria,” Parks Victoria chief Matt Jackson said.
Premier Daniel Andrews sent his condolences to Mr Slade’s family on Sunday, stressing how his death showed the fires remain a dangerous environment.
Poor and very poor air quality conditions due to the bushfires are forecast statewide, with smoke and haze in the east, northeast and central Victoria.