Extreme heat a 'turning point' in fire threat
With fire bans in place across the state, fire and emergency crews brace for the worst as Victorians face one of the hottest weeks in years.PT0M0S 620 349
A tiny town in Victoria’s north-east is without power after planned electricity works went ahead - despite a 43-degree forecast.
Thoona resident Emily Healey said on Monday she contacted SP AusNet about the planned ‘‘essential works’’ on power poles in the town near Wangaratta. She was told the works would go ahead from 8.30am to 4pm.
On Tuesday she was incredulous the power had been cut by 7am. The early shut-off stopped her from cooking breakfast for her children, from getting fresh water for her two Great Danes and she missed her morning coffee.
Peter Booth and (background) Ske Rhodes-Mitchell and Andrew 'Tommy' Taylor having a cold beer at the Thoona Pub after the power came back on. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer SOD
‘‘What about the elderly in town?’’ Ms Healey said.
‘‘I am still trying to fathom why they wouldn’t do this work when it was cooler, like it (the weather) was two weeks ago?’’ she said.
Ms Healey said no electricity meant no water for her family.
‘‘We have no power which means we have got no water,’’ Ms Healey said.
‘‘Our water is reliant on an electricity pump,’’ she said.
‘‘The dogs don’t cope with the heat. Luckily, we have some water in wadding pool for them,’’ she said.
The Thoona Pub will not open until 4pm due to the power outage.
A SP AusNet said the works were essential for ‘‘bushfire mitigation’’ with 100 non-essential works cancelled on Tuesday due to the heat. Just 13 planned works were going ahead based on fire risk assessments and Thoona was one of them.
‘‘It’s poles that are at risk of failure (at Thoona),’’ he said.
‘‘Our assets have to have a zero-risk rating throughout the bushfire season,’’ he said.
The spokesman said 40 linesmen would replace eight power poles in Thoona affecting about 250 customers.
He said Energy Safe Victoria stipulated it needed to maintain a zero risk rating for its assets, which included 380,000 power poles throughout the bushfire season.
The power is expected to return just after midday he said. Some northern towns are expected to have temperatures of 45 degrees.
SP AusNet earlier tweeted that parts of Cranbourne had a power outage but it was unclear whether it was due to a fault.
Another power supplier, Jemena has cancelled all non-essential works.
In a rare event, Melbourne is set to have the hottest temperature of the state capitals.
A total fire ban has been declared for all districts except the northeast, which includes Thoona, and East Gippsland.
In a safety measure, some V/Line would have different timetables because of the heat until at least Friday, Public Transport Victoria has said. Affected lines include Traralgon, Bairnsdale, Seymour, Shepparton, Albury, Swan Hill, Echuca, Ararat, Maryborough, Geelong and Warrnambool. Ballarat and Bendigo-line trains are unaffected as they have been replaced by coaches during Regional Rail Link work.
Ambulance Victoria warned of the coming heat on Tuesday night saying that when homes did not cool down overnight it often led to more distress and sometimes death. In the last extensive heatwave in 2009, the Coroner attributed 374 deaths to heat-related problems, the spokesman said.
He said dehydration could make sufferers confused and could exacerbate heart conditions.
Turning Point director Professor Dan Lubman warned thirsty Victorians against turning to beer, wine or spirits to beat the heat, saying alcohol dehydrated drinkers.
“Contrary to their image as thirst quenchers, beer and other alcoholic drinks are diuretics, disrupting our kidney’s ability to maintain hydration,’’ Professor Lubman said.
‘‘This is the last thing you need on a stinking hot day,” he said.
Full list of affected towns
SP AusNet has 13 planned outages on Tuesday with the customers most affected
- Cockatoo (367)
- Glenrowan (301)
- Upwey (215)
Other affected towns and suburbs include
- Nicholson (two)
- Ruby (one)
- Kardella (four)
- Bass (three)
- Dropmore (one)
- Pleiger (36)
- Lurg (3)
- Monbulk (22)
- Boronia (1)
- Narre Warren (33).
Most were expected to be returned to service by 1pm.