Red alert: Heatwave ahead

4PM UPDATE: There is a total fire ban for all of Victoria on Friday.

The CFA declared the ban this afternoon.

No fires can be lit or be allowed to remain alight in the open air.

EARLIER: THE Border is set to sizzle with the temperature in the high 30s and low 40s for five days.

But forecasters said yesterday the hot spell would not match the heatwave of the Black Saturday summer in 2009.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting today’s top temperature will be 36 degrees, followed by 39 degrees tomorrow, 42 on Saturday, 40 on Sunday, 39 on Monday and 41 on Tuesday.

WEATHER: Local forecasts.

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Senior forecaster Dean Stewart said it was the first real hot spell after clouds and rain had kept a lid on the temperature for the past two summers.

“Most summers you’ll get strings of days in runs of five to seven days in the high 30s, low 40s,” Mr Stewart said.

“But the past two summers it’s been broken up by a fair bit more cloud and rainfall. We haven’t had those extreme runs.”

The last heatwave was Black Saturday in 2009 where, for two weeks, the temperature hovered in the high 30s and low 40s.

“That was one of the hottest spells for a long time,” Mr Stewart said.

“This is unlikely to rival that sort of period.”

Mr Stewart said the week-long heatwave was caused by a build-up of hot air over the centre of the continent that was drifting south.

That hot air has joined up with a slow-moving high-pressure system south of the Great Australian Bight that isn’t allowing any cooler fronts to push across Victoria.

The expectation of such high temperatures has fire brigades on high alert with tomorrow carrying a severe danger warning.

CFA district 24 duty officer John Bigham said crews of officers would staff several incident control centres across the Hume region.

More planes are also on standby for the next five days, as well as heavy machinery including water carriers and excavators.

“There’s been a lot of time spent planning for this,” Mr Bigham said.

“We’re asking people now to have their fire plans ready.

“They must keep an eye on the CFA or RFS websites and stay tuned through the media.”

Mr Bigham said residents needed to think ahead and avoid mowing grass so their machinery didn’t spark fires.

He said people should also travel as little as possible.

“If the public doesn’t need to be on the roads on the very high-danger days, maybe plan around that,” he said.

He said if people saw even distant smoke they should check the websites for what was happening. And if they saw flames close by, he urged them to report it on 000.

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