A Total Fire Ban has been declared for the Mallee, Wimmera, North Central and Northern Country fire districts for Sunday 27 December 2020.

Tomorrow’s conditions in the Mallee, Wimmera, North Central and Northern Country will be hot and dry, with temperatures reaching as high as 41 degrees in the far north.

All of the Hindmarsh Shire, including Dimboola, Jeparit, Rainbow, and Nhill are within the Wimmera district, as are the Yarriambiack, West Wimmera, Horsham Rural City, and Northern Grampians Local Government Areas.

The Wimmera and Mallee have Fire Danger Ratings of Extreme (red), and Northern Country and North Central are Severe (orange).

Warm, dry and fresh to strong north-westerly winds have been forecast, before a south-westerly wind change that is expected to bring damaging wind gusts before the temperature drops in the afternoon. Thunderstorms will develop during the afternoon, bringing localised scattered rainfall of less than 5mm near the change and dry lightning inland.

The combination of heat and strong winds will considerably increase the fire risk, resulting in a Fire Danger Rating of Severe for the Mallee, Wimmera and Northern Country regions, and Very High for the North Central and North East regions. The Fire Danger Rating will be High across the rest of Victoria.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said the weather conditions meant an elevated fire risk across the northern part of the state.

“Tomorrow, the Mallee, Wimmera, North Central and Northern Country will experience elevated dangerous fire conditions and as a result, we have declared a Total Fire Ban across the four districts,” he said.

CO Heffernan said there were particular concerns around the number of campers enjoying the holiday period across regional Victoria and he urged everyone to take great care and not light any campfires.

“Campfires will not be allowed from midnight tonight, and we would really urge people not to light one earlier in the night either,” he said.

“Anyone who has had a campfire in recent days should make sure the fire has been adequately extinguished to avoid flare-ups.”

CO Heffernan also reminded those still harvesting would need to take care in light of tomorrow’s conditions.

A Total Fire Ban means no fire can be lit in the open air or allowed to remain alight from 12.01am to 11.59pm on the day of the Total Fire Ban.

Strict rules also apply to the operation of farm machinery, chainsaws and lawn mowers, and residents in Mallee and Wimmera in particular are encouraged to take extreme care tomorrow.