Alarms blare as Melbourne chokes
MELBOURNE has been plunged into a smoky darkness this morning after haze from the ongoing bushfires left the city with the second worst air pollution in the world.
The hashtag #MelbourneSmoke went viral as thousands of people took to social media to address the grim pollution and encouraged others to not leave home without P2 masks.
The bushfire smoke is so bad that hundreds of fire alarms have been activated across the city.
Melbourne is facing an air quality emergency Tuesday as hazardous levels of smoke haze engulf the city 😷. As pollution levels skyrocket, the @EPA_Victoria is warning now even healthy Victorians could experience symptoms including coughing & shortness of breath #melbournesmoke pic.twitter.com/gJVoD6RhyJ— Ben Kimber (@BenKs_World) January 13, 2020
The state's Environmental Protection Authority issued a warning to locals earlier today as the CBD recorded hazardous levels of fine particles in the air from 12am to 4am this morning.
The EPA categorised it as very poor, with the air quality later hitting hazardous.
Calm conditions across the state caused the smoke to settle and move into towns at the foot of valleys.
Air quality forecasts for Geelong, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, central region, all of Gippsland and the north central region are all listed as hazardous today by the EPA.
The Bureau of Meteorology also issued a warning to Victorians, especially relating to driving safely after smoke caused visibility to drop.
Smoke has increased over #Melbourne this evening as a wind change moved through. A Road Weather Alert is current for reduced visibility in the smoke; observations indicate visibility down to 900m in parts. Take extra care while driving. Latest warnings: https://t.co/UEGLRWAknc— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) January 13, 2020
The air will be very poor in the northeast and poor in the northern country.
When one Victorian local asked authorities on "any recommendations where one could take the family to in Melbourne where the smoke condition isn't as bad", they instead warned him air quality was "poor to hazardous across the state".
Firefighters also spent the night being called out to fire alarms triggered by the smoke haze.
The MFB told radio station 3AW on a normal night crews would attend about 20 false alarms, but overnight they were called out to about 200, but each had to be treated as a potential fire.
Those with heart and respiratory issues are being told to keep out of the smoke, but even healthy people are being warned to stay inside.
Sixteen fires are still burning and 1.4 million hectares has been destroyed across the state.
Slightly calmer weather forecast is allowing firefighters to try to build containment lines, while military personnel are working to make isolated towns accessible by road.
But the Victorian capital isn't the only place in Australia to be hit by hazardous air.
Canberra has also spent most of 2020 in the top 10 of cities with the world's most hazardous air as smoke from surrounding bushfires covered the city.
Sydney has also been hit, with bushfire smoke causing fire alarms in the city's office buildings to go off on a particularly bad day late last year.
And Brisbane, Perth and Hobart have all experienced hazy days.