Victoria, Australia ~ Residents and holidaymakers were yesterday urged to leave ahead of what was expected to be a day of extreme fire danger.

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

State emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp urged people in the East Gippsland region to leave no later than today.

Earlier yesterday, organisers of a festival cancelled the event, citing the extreme weather.

The event was meant to run until New Year’s Eve. Some 9 000 people were already camping when it was called off. – REUTERS