30/12/2019 8:57 AM AEDT | Updated 30/12/2019 9:30 AM AEDT

Victoria Bushfires: Mass Evacuation Of Tourists And Residents In East Gippsland

Victorian Authorities order mass evacuation ahead of historic fire threat.

A volunteer from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service works to extinguish spot fires following back burning operations in Mount Hay, in Australia’s Blue Mountains, December 28, 2019. Picture taken December 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jill Gralow

Residents and tourists in the Gippsland region of Victoria were urged to leave on Sunday ahead of what is expected to be a day of extreme fire danger.

Authorities said temperatures of more than 40 Celsius, strong winds, thunderstorms and a wind change moving across the state meant Monday would be one of the most significant fire weather days in Victoria’s history.

State Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp told both residents and tens of thousands of holiday-makers in the East Gippsland region to leave no later than Monday morning. 

“What we are saying now, based on the conditions that will be confronting us tomorrow across the state, but in particular in East Gippsland, is that if you’re holidaying in that part of the state, it’s time that you left,” Crisp said at a media conference on Sunday.

“We are asking you to now leave East Gippsland from that area east of Bairnsdale,” Crisp said, referring to a city 280 km  east of Melbourne.

“You should not be there tomorrow and we want you to get out now.”

Earlier on Sunday, organisers of the famous Falls music festival in the state canceled the event, citing the extreme weather expected on Monday.

“After consultation with local and regional fire authorities and other emergency stakeholders, it is clear that we have no other option,” the organisers wrote on Facebook.

Lagerhaus via Getty Images
LORNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 31: A general view of the crowd at the Valley Stage at Falls Festival on December 31, 2017 in Lorne, Australia. (Photo by Lagerhaus/WireImage)

The event was meant to run until New Year’s Eve and some 9,000 people were already camping on site when the announcement was made.

NSW is also facing severe fire conditions over coming days, with temperatures expecting to peak on Tuesday.

“We’ve got some deteriorating weather conditions over the coming days, particularly Monday and worsening through to Tuesday,” said the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons.


The federal government said on Sunday it would compensate volunteer firefighters in NSW as they grappled with the intensity of this year’s bushfire season.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said payments of up to A$6,000 would be available for eligible firefighters who had spent more than 10 days in the field this fire season. 

 “As this is a very prolonged fire season, this is putting additional demands on our firefighters,” Morrison told a news conference.

“It means that the turn-outs and the call-outs have been far more extensive than in previous years, going well and beyond and above what is normally expected of those who are engaged in volunteer service.”

In this image made from video, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to firefighters in Mudgee, New South Wales Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. Morrison on Monday praised emergency service workers for their efforts to combat fires which raged throughout New South Wales. (Australian Pool via AP)

Morrison had previously said compensation for volunteers was not a priority, but he has faced increasing political pressure as the widespread fires burn.

On Tuesday, he announced government workers could get additional paid leave for volunteering.

While there are different rules across Australia’s states, volunteers tend to negotiate time off directly with their employer.

Bushfires have destroyed more than 4 million hectares in five states since September and eight deaths have been linked to the blazes.

Reporting by Will Ziebell.