A severe fire warning is place for much of the Victoria today as fire crews and health authorities brace for extreme heat over the next few days.
Very hot temperatures in the high 30s and 40s will continue until a cool change on Sunday.
People have been urged to keep cool, look after vulnerable friends and relatives and not leave children or pets in cars.
Beat the heat:
•Never leave children or pets in cars
•Keep to cool areas, such as air conditioned buildings
•Plan ahead and keep activities to the coolest part of the day
•Check in on those at risk, such as the elderly
Source: Vic Health
A total fire ban is in place for the Wimmera, South West, North Central and Central districts of Victoria, including Melbourne and Geelong.
Police will monitor arsonists, as fire crews prepare for intense blazes in tinder dry grass and bushlands.
The Department of Health has issued a heat alert today for the Mallee, North Central, Northern Country and Wimmera districts to alert hospitals and health services.
Heatwaves can cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal.
The Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said yesterday the state was extremely dry.
“We’ve had hot conditions all week in northern parts of Victoria, the conditions have changed yet again, they are now tinder dry,” he said.
“We are now seeing all of the fuels, whether it be grasslands or bush drying to the point where they will carry extensive fire, intense fire, fire that will do damage in the state.”
The Bureau of Meteorology said it could be the hottest stretch of December days Melbourne had experienced in decades.
Authorities say more Australians are killed by heat than any other natural disaster.