Rain comes but fire danger 'far from over'

Melissa Iaria and Ulises Izquierdo
Cooler conditions and light rain are hoped to give crews fighting blazes in Victoria some respite

Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed four Victorians are still unaccounted for in fire-affected areas, where the danger is far from over despite cooler conditions.

Mr Andrews also confirmed that while smoky conditions made rescue operations challenging, more people had been airlifted out of Mallacoota on Sunday.

Sixty one people had left the town on Sunday morning on Australian Defence Force helicopters and a ship, and another 350 had indicated they wanted to leave. A further 400 still remained by the coast.

Cooler conditions and light rain forecast on Sunday were hoped to give crews fighting the deadly blazes in the state's east and northeast some respite, as 18 communities remain cut off and significant property losses loom, authorities say.

As at 4.30pm, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp confirmed that more than a million hectares have burnt, 800,000 of them in East Gippsland alone.

Two emergency warnings remain in place after the evacuation alert for the Harrietville area was downgraded, with 23 watch and acts alerts issued for East Gippsland and the north east of Victoria.

Authorities are yet to obtain a clear picture of losses but concede they will be "significant".

The national disaster has prompted generous donations from Australians, but Mr Andrews has urged people to give money rather than food or other goods.

"I don't want to appear harsh in any way, but we don't need any more clothes, food, trucks on our roads, we don't have the warehouse capacity, the people or the time to sort through," Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews confirmed the government will match the amount contributed during the Black Saturday tragedy in February 2009, pledging two million dollars to a bushfires fund.

Despite conditions providing some relief, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp urged Victorians to remain vigilant, saying the weather will start to warm up on Thursday and Friday.

"What we are seeing with our weather, is yes, it is milder, it's more moderate, there has actually been some rain. But in terms of people thinking that this rain is going to put the fires out, that's not the case," Mr Crisp said.

"There has been such a drought, particularly in the East Gippsland area, we know these fires are with us for a long time."

A state of disaster remains in place for Victoria throughout next week.