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Victorian heatwave could set up horror summer, warns state fire commissioner

Date

Richard Willingham

The heatwave set to hit Victoria this week will dry out the state's bushfire fuel load and turn the rest of the summer into a ''very serious fire season'', Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley has warned.

The temperature is tipped to top 41 in Melbourne on Tuesday and Thursday, with 45 forecast in the state's north.

Despite the extreme heat, authorities say the fire danger at the start of the week will not be too high because it will not be windy.

Mr Lapsley said the fire danger period would come later in the week when winds increased. The highest danger is in the north and north-west of the state.

Mr Lapsley said that after this week the ''green tinge'' along the coast, in Gippsland, and in the Dandenongs would no longer exist, making the whole state dry.

''I think this is the turning point for the whole season, we are now moving into a very serious fire season for the rest of January and February,'' Mr Lapsley said.

With no significant fires to date, the state's firefighting force was in a good position, with firefighters fresh, he said.

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