Keep calm, stay safe: Mayor

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An Emergency Warning remains in place for communities on the edge of Bunyip State Park as a massive fire rages out of control.

The warning was issued for the towns of Bunyip, Bunyip North, Cornucopia, Garfield, Garfield North, Gembrook, Gentle Annie, Labertouche, Longwarry North, Maryknoll, Nar Nar Goon North, Tonimbuk, Tynong, Tynong North.

A Watch and Act Warning has been issued for Beenah, Gembrook and White’s Corner.

The fire is heading towards the Princes Highway and is threatening homes and lives.

Warm weather overnight contributed to unpredictable fire conditions causing the bushfire to spread in many directions.

More than 25 CFA and 15 FFMV trucks are working the fire and aircraft are water bombing throughout the day.

The fire has closed both the Princes Freeway and Nar Nar Goon-Longwarry Road between the Nar Nar Goon interchange and Drouin. Traffic is being diverted to the South Gippsland Highway.

Cardinia Shire has set up an emergency relief centre at the Pakenham Hall. Residents of the Windana drug and alcohol facility in Maryknoll were evacuated there overnight.

A community meeting has been called for 3pm today at the Cardinia Cultural Centre in Pakenham.

Cardinia mayor Graeme Moore, who lives on the edge of the fire at Nar Nar Goon North, is urging residents to keep calm and stay safe.

“We are doing everything we can and the emergency services are doing a great job,” he said.

“I would say to people to keep calm, keep under cover and keep off the roads; that’s the most dangerous place you can be. If you don’t need to be on the roads keep off them. Let the emergency services do their job.”

Cr Moore urged people to go to the relief centre or move in with friends of relatives out of the fire zone.

“If you’re moving the larger animals out, you go with them. Go somewhere safe overnight if need be.”

The following message was issued by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

You should move indoors:

· Bring your pets inside.

· Protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and trousers, made from cotton or wool. Wear leather boots.

· Close all exterior doors, windows and vents and turn off cooling systems.

· You must take shelter before the fire arrives. The extreme heat is likely to kill you well before the flames reach you.

· Shelter in a room that has two exits including one directly to the outside. It is important to be able to see outside so you know what is happening with the fire.

· If your home catches on fire and the conditions inside become unbearable, you need to get out and go to an area that has already been burnt.

If you cannot get indoors, last resort options include:

· Shelter in the middle of a large open area like a ploughed paddock, football oval or sporting reserve.

· Get into a large body of water like a dam, lake, river, the ocean or inground pool.

· Try to protect yourself from the fire’s heat.

If you are travelling:

· If you are travelling, do not enter the warning area. U-turn to safety.

· If you are currently driving slow down and turn on your headlights. Smoke will make it difficult to see.

If you are caught in fire in your car:

· Park behind a solid structure to block the fire’s heat or pull over to cleared area.

· Try to position the car towards the approaching fire.

· Turn on your hazard lights and headlights.

· Close all windows.

· Turn off the air-conditioning and shut all the air vents.

· Turn your car engine off.

· Get down as low as possible below window level and cover up with a woollen blanket.

Impacts in the area:

· Spot fires and embers can start up to 500 m ahead of the main fire.

· Bushfires can generate extreme heat. Heat will kill you before the fire reaches you.

· Trees can be extremely hazardous during a bushfire. Fire affected or burnt trees can fall on you without warning. Avoid standing, parking or travelling through areas of fire affected trees.

· Road Closure: Please be advised the Princes Freeway has been closed in both directions, between Nar Nar Goon Interchange and the Princess Highway, Drouin.

· Alternate route – make you way to the South Gippsland Highway.

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