Boiling, with no end in sight

FRIDAY’S expected 41 degrees will round out the Border’s longest January heatwave on record.

The mercury topped 40 degrees for five consecutive days, from January 14 to 18.

Now, after today’s expected 39 degrees, there’s no relief in sight.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast at least four days above 40 degrees from Friday.

And duty forecaster Peter Newham said the hot stretch might last a lot longer.

“A southerly will push through the state, but it might not have much punch,” he said.

“It could remain above 40 well into the middle of next week.”

“The forecast for tomorrow and Thursday is 39 but it could push to 40.”

Wodonga resident Jim Parker said the soaring temperature and long grass revived his memories of a 1952 fire that threatened the city.

That fire, which killed two people, started near Cornishtown, north west of Chiltern, and raged through Barnawartha, leaving it in smoking ruins.

It destroyed 12 houses, two grocery stores and the Methodist church, before sweeping north, across what is now the Wodonga golf course and into the heart of the city.

“There’s a lot of dry grass along the freeway,” he said. “It should have been cut months ago when it was green.”

Mr Parker said the fuel load on West Wodonga’s hills was “100 times worse than in the 1950s”.

“If the fire comes from the west, we will be covered in ash in no time,” he said.

Albury Rural Fire Services’ Marg Wehner said concerns of long grass in residential areas were unfounded.

“It may look bad but it does not pose much risk,” she said.

“It takes 200 metres to get a run of fire to develop into something bigger,” she said.

Ms Wehner said fuel loading on hills along Black Range, West of Wodonga, was not a problem as the area was privately owned and was grazed.

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