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Warning woodchip fire in Geelong could burn for days as air quality plummets


Crews are struggling to contain a fire that is burning out of control at a woodchip plant in Victoria, with locals warned of very poor air quality and flying embers in the area.

There are fears the fire, which began at the woodchip plant at the Port of Geelong on Christmas Day, could continue to burn for days.

Since the blaze began after mulch caught alight, 19 fire engines have been called to the scene, according to The Geelong Advertiser. Firefighters remained at the plant battling the blaze today.

Locals were warned of deteriorating air quality last night and today, with residents in Bell Park, Corio, Hamlyn Heights, Norlane, North Geelong, North Shore and Rippleside affected.

The CFA said the fire doesn’t pose a risk to local residents, but urged people in the area to monitor the conditions and avoid nearby roads if possible.

The air quality is currently “very poor” in Bell Park, Corio, Norlane, North Geelong, North Shore.

People are urged to keep the road clear so emergency services can respond to the fires and to stay inside.

In NSW, firefighters have used milder conditions in recent days to strengthen containment lines.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Rose Barr says a severe heatwave will start building in southern parts of NSW on Thursday.

“Between Thursday and Saturday we are starting to see severe heatwave conditions in the southern parts of the state, extending over a more significant area of NSW into the weekend and next week,” she told AAP.

“Some areas are forecast to reach extreme heatwave conditions. “With the increasing heat and winds, the fire danger will worsen into the new week, with Monday and Tuesday most likely to be the most significant fire weather days.”

More than 1700 firefighters were in the field on Christmas Day, slogging away to strengthen containment lines before the dangerous weather arrives. Fire danger ratings are very high on Thursday for the ACT, the greater Hunter, the central and southern ranges, the northern and southern slopes and northwestern NSW.

There is a high fire danger rating from the far South Coast up to Sydney, with a low-moderate danger rating in western parts of the state.

In South Australia firefighters are working around the clock to tackle an out-of-control bushfire raging across Adelaide Hills with residents being warned to leave while they can.

A watch and act warning has been issued on Boxing Day for Cudlee Creek, Gumeracha, Lobethal, Charleston, Woodside, Mount Torrens, Chain of Ponds, Inglewood, Castambul, Paracombe, Millbrook, Montacute, Harrogate, Kenton Valley, Birdwood, Tungkillo and Mount Beevor in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

“Take action now as this bushfire may threaten your safety. If you are not prepared, leave now and if the path is clear, go to a safer place,” a police warning states.

“Homes that have been built to withstand a bushfire, and are prepared to the highest level, may provide safety.”

Thermal imaging equipment is being used to identify hot spots, while large trees and flare-ups burn at the fire ground.

A heatwave bringing severe to extreme conditions will start moving towards the Australian east coast on Thursday, affecting the northern parts of South Australia.

Adelaide will be spared with a top of 33C forecast before soaring to 39C on Friday.

—with AAP



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