6 people have lost their lives in Kinglake itself, and as many as 14 across Victoria. As many as 40 people are feared trapped, perhaps killed, across the State. Nobody knows for sure, as I write (11:00 pm, Saturday).
This is a breaking story, and a genuine tragedy.
Here is the ABC News site's report from this evening.
Here is the Kinglake area Emergency Notice from the Country Fire Authority.
Urgent Threat Message - Wandong - 9.50 pm
Urgent Threat Message for communities near Wandong
The grass & scrub fire, burning 1 kilometre south of Wandong, near ( Map reference 910N N10), is burning in a south easterly direction and is estimated to be over 1000 hectares in size. The communities of Wandong, Wallan, Wallan East, Eden Park and Whittlesea, Humevale, Bruces Creek, Upper Plenty, Kinglake West, Pheasant Creek, Smiths Gully, Kinglake, Flowerdale, Glenburn & Hurstbridge may be directly impacted upon by this fire.
An emergency relief centre has been opened in Diamond Creek in the Shire of Nillumbik for those affected by the bushfires in the northern parts of the Shire and the Kinglake area.
The centre is located at 28 Main-Hurstbridge Road, Diamond Creek.
- Residents in this area may experience smoke and burning embers reaching their properties, and are advised to patrol their houses to find and put out any burning embers that may be landing.
- Protect yourself from radiant heat by wearing correct protective clothing consisting of long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sturdy boots and a broad brimmed hat. On no account should synthetic material be worn.
- As the fire front approaches, it will be unsafe to be either on foot or in a car as the heat radiating from the fire will be intense. Buildings will offer the best protection during the passage of a fire front. Close all doors and windows and stay inside the house while the fire passes. Remain alert, extinguish any small fires and if necessary, move outside to burnt ground once the fire has passed.
- If you are caught on the road, don't get out and run.
- Pull to the side, preferably in an area clear of tall trees and long grass.
- Put your hazard lights on and close the windows and vents.
- Cover any exposed areas of skin with a woollen blanket and get down as low as possible.
- Only when the fire has passed do you get out and move to safety.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Residents away from home should not try to return to the area as access is limited and the roads may not be safe.
- Continue to listen to ABC or local radio for updates on this fire.
- Tourists are advised to stay away from the following areas: Wandong, Wallan, Wallan East, Eden Park, Whittlesea, Humevale, Bruces Creek, Upper Plenty, Kinglake West, Pheasant Creek, Smiths Gully, Kinglake, Flowerdale, Glenburn & Hurstbridge
- Other information:
For information on fires in Victoria and general fire safety advice, please contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667. Callers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech / communication impairment may call textphone/ telewriter (TTY) on 1800 122 969. Information is also available at www.dse.vic.gov.au/fires
The ABC is the Emergency Services Broadcaster. You can tune in to them, in Melbourne on 774 AM Band, or go to this page, and click on audio streaming.
The CFA Emergency fire alert page, which you ought Store in your Favourites or Bookmarks is here It contains no less than 24 "Urgent Threat Messages".
Here is a page of Fire & Incident Related Information Services
This is serious stuff folks.
There are other fires in South Australia and NSW, and no doubt elsewhere. But the headlines are mostly about the loss of life - definite and possible, in Victoria.
Persons in other States may check their local (State) Fire Authority websites linked from this page.