Firefighters battle blazes through night
FIREFIGHTERS continued to battle almost two dozen blazes across Victoria's east in the early hours of Tuesday, with many of the fires still not under control.
As of midnight Tuesday, Victorian emergency services confirmed blazes were still burning in Bunyip State Park and towns including Basan Corner, Cornucopia, Drouin West, Garfield and Garfield North, Gentle Annie, Tonimbuk and Tynong North.
It's hoped rain and cooler temperatures expected on Tuesday and Wednesday will aid efforts to bring under control fires that have seen at least nine properties destroyed.
However, expected thunderstorms could produce lightning that sparks new blazes.
A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for East Gippsland and North East districts - and could provide much relief to firefighters battling the blaze in Dargo.
The storm will bring strong winds and heavy rains and could lead to flash flooding in some areas.
But those battling the Bunyip fire may not see any relief until early on Wednesday morning, with the cool change predicted to arrive then.
With the storms comes the danger of dry lightning which could cause flare ups in areas already affected by the fire - and crews will be on high alert overnight. At least two homes have been destroyed by the latest round of devastating bushfires.
The number of damaged or destroyed properties is expected to rise when firefighters can better survey the area on Tuesday morning.
The threat of the blaze known as the Yinnar South fire was downgraded on Monday. But elsewhere the risk escalated. Blazes further east at Dargo were classified as an emergency and residents in 17 localities were told it's too late to leave.
"The bushfire closest to Dargo has travelled south past the township. The Dargo Road has not yet been impacted, however spot fires have been identified to the east of the road," the alert reads.
"The two other fires northwest of Dargo are currently merging which will form one large fire.
In addition to the two houses, at least seven other structures have been razed across the state, keeping busy some 2000 firefighters.
The Bunyip fire is the largest. It's about 65km east of Melbourne, was sparked by lightning strikes on Friday and has destroyed more than 10,000 hectares. Alerts also remain in place for areas further northeast, including at Licola.