More than 30,000 tourists have been told to flee a picturesque Victorian seaside town due to extreme bushfire danger.
Travelers in East Gippsland have been alerted to leave the area before Monday, when catastrophic fire conditions are forecast.
Authorities have estimated there are 30,000 holiday makers currently in Lakes Entrance, with Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp telling The Age that people should leave immediately.
‘If you’re holidaying in that part of the state, it’s time you left now,’ Mr Crisp said.
Victorian authorities have told tourists in Lakes Entrance (pictured) to leave now due to wild bushfires in East Gippsland
Firefighters tackling a blaze in Gippsland. Catastrophic fire conditions are forecast for Monday, leading Victorian authorities to warn holiday makers to evacuate immediately
Wild bushfires in the region are expected to affect the Princes Highway, which may close.
Many roads in the area are already closed due to bushfire danger.
Mr Crisp has told tourists to leave now to avoid being stuck in East Gippsland with an approaching blaze.
‘We’re coming out with this advice now, we want to give people time to leave East Gippsland now,’ he said.
If visitors and locals refuse to budge from the area, Mr Crisp warned there won’t be enough trucks to go around and people may be stuck for days due to road closures.
Kevin Parkyn from the Bureau of Meteorology said a wind change in East Gippsland about midnight is ‘very problematic when it comes to fires and the landscape.’
‘It’s a very serious life-threatening situation. Make no mistake about it,’ he said.
More than 70 helicopters and planes will be working on Monday if conditions allow.
The warnings come after thousands of revellers were forced to leave Falls Festival in Lorne immediately after the event was cancelled due to raging bushfires.
The hugely popular Falls Festival (pictured) in Lorne has been cancelled because of raging bushfires
Secret Sounds Co CEO Jessica Ducrou said she is ‘gutted’ they had to cancel the festival but the safety of patrons, artists and staff is their top priority
Event organisers have advised festival goers not to return to Lorne (pictured) or other coastal towns on the Great Ocean Road as they are facing the same extreme weather conditions
Organisers announced that they were cancelling the remaining days of the event in Victoria due to extreme weather.
Many party goers had arrived for the first day of the festival on Friday and had expected to stay until New Year’s Day.
But more than 9,000 punters were ordered to pack up their stuff on Sunday and leave before 9am on Monday.
In a statement on Sunday morning, festival organisers Secret Sounds said conditions posed a risk to health and safety.
‘It is with a heavy heart we have had to cancel the remaining days of The Falls Festival in Lorne due to the predicted extreme weather conditions forecast for Monday December 30th in the Otways and surrounding region, creating a risk to health and safety due to potential fires, smoke, severe winds and tree hazards.
‘The decision has not been made lightly, our patron and staff safety is our priority,’ the statement said.
A ‘severe’ heatwave sweeping across Australia is expected over the New Year period. Pictured: National forecast for Monday, with light purple meaning 45C and red 28C
Secret Sounds said they have consulted with local and regional fire authorities and were told there was no other option than to cancel the festival.
A total fire ban is in place across the state on Monday.
Extreme heat, wind, possible storms and fire risk are on the cards for Monday in the area, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart told AAP.
‘It is going to be hot, it is going to be windy there is some potential for storms coming across,’ Mr Stewart said.
‘The heat and the wind will push the fire danger up from severe to extreme around parts of the state. If you have all those people in a bush environment … it is is not a good recipe.’
Everyone with a ticket will be offered a full refund including booking and payment processing fees.
THE WEATHER IN YOUR CITY
SUNDAY: Min 20. Max 31. Mostly sunny.
MONDAY: Min 21. Max 31. Mostly sunny.
TUESDAY: Min 23. Max 35. Possible storm. Late cool change.
WEDNESDAY: Min 20. Max 25. Cloudy.
SUNDAY: Min 21. Max 29. Partly cloudy.
MONDAY: Min 21. Max 30. Partly cloudy.
TUESDAY: Min 21. Max 30. Partly cloudy.
WEDNESDAY: Min 22. Max 32. Mostly sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 20. Max 38. Very hot. Mostly sunny.
MONDAY: Min 27. Max 40. Windy. Possible storm.
TUESDAY: Min 16. Max 26. Cloud clearing.
WEDNESDAY: Min 13. Max 29. Sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 20. Max 35. Possible morning smoke haze.
MONDAY: Min 19. Max 39. Hot. Partly cloudy.
TUESDAY: Min 21. Max 38. Possible storm. Late smoke.
WEDNESDAY: Min 13. Max 35. Partly cloudy.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
SUNDAY: Min 18. Max 29. Mostly sunny.
MONDAY: Min 20. Max 41. Hot. Late cool change.
TUESDAY: Min 17. Max 22. Shower or two.
WEDNESDAY: Min 14. Max 23. Mostly sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 16. Max 27. Partly cloudy.
MONDAY: Min 17. Max 27. Cloud clearing.
TUESDAY: Min 15. Max 32. Sunny.
WEDNESDAY: Min 18. Max 36. Sunny.
SUNDAY: Min 13. Max 26. Partly cloudy.
MONDAY: Min 14. Max 40. Very hot. Shower or two.
TUESDAY: Min 15. Max 22. Possible shower.
WEDNESDAY: Min 12. Max 23. Partly cloudy.
SUNDAY: Min 27. Max 33. Showers. Possible storm.
MONDAY: Min 26. Max 34. Shower or two. Possible storm.
TUESDAY: Min 27. Max 35. Showers. Possible afternoon storm.
WEDNESDAY: Min 27. Max 35. Showers. Possible storm.