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Bushfire forces evacuation of Gippsland town of Goongerah

Date

Thomas O'Byrne

An out-of-control bushfire has forced the emergency evacuation of an isolated community in far east Gippsland, as the state's fire services commissioner warns that Victoria is "ready to burn".

About 5.30pm on Sunday, the Country Fire Authority warned that an out-of-control fire may sweep through the small town of Goongerah, north of Orbost, on Sunday night.

A CFA spokeswoman said there were a cluster of fires, totalling about 1896 hectares, burning near the Goongerah community.

With 40 degree temperatures, a strong southerly wind change and potential lightening strikes forecast for Monday, firefighting authorities are now racing to bolster resources in high-risk areas across Victoria ahead of the dire bushfire conditions.

The threat is particularly strong in far east Gippsland where firefighters are already battling several large blazes, including those near Goongerah.

Police were door knocking in the township and recommending residents evacuate before road closures come into effect.

Gippsland regional fire controller Anthony Costigan said extra resources had been deployed to protect the communities, but urged residents to leave early.

Meanwhile, the CFA has declared a total fire ban for the entire state on Monday.

CFA spokeswoman Kim Payne said the organisation's main focus throughout Sunday was redeploying firefighters and resources in preparation for the upcoming danger.

"Lots of work is being put into building containment lines and preparing communities," she said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rod Dixon said temperatures were expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius in the state's north.

In Melbourne, the bureau has predicted a maximum of 35 degrees.

Despite predictions of cooler temperatures on Tuesday, the fire risk is expected to remain high due to dryness and continuing strong winds.

Mr Dixon said the cool change would be fleeting, however, with the mercury set to hit 40 degrees again on Friday.

The CFA is recommending that those evacuating from Goongerah travel to an address outside the warning area or take shelter at a relief centre set up at the Orbost Secondary College.

As of 7pm, fires were still listed as "going" in parts of East Gippsland including Club Terrace, Goongerah, Gelantipy and Danes Track north of Bairnsdale.

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