A KEY fire tower near Bendigo will be unmanned today during 40C heat because upgrade works haven't been completed.
The One Tree Hill fire tower, which can see more than 50km over tinder-dry bush, will be empty, creating a fire-fighting blind spot over the area.
A DSE source told the Herald Sun the tower, which was due for completion this month after closing in June for improvement works, was meant to be operational earlier this week but decking had not been installed on one of the tower levels.
The source said the vacant tower would leave much of the Bendigo area invisible to fire authorities.
Although it is believed the tower will not be fully completed for weeks, the Government says it will be manned from tomorrow and other measures will be taken during today's scorcher to make sure flames are not missed.
A spokesman for Environment Minister Ryan Smith, James Martin, said aircraft would be dispatched quickly in the event of a fire and a tower at a different location would be manned instead.
"Given the spike in weather conditions over the next couple of days, plans have been made ... to man an additional fire tower at Fryers Ridge for fire protection in the area," he said.
"Advice from DSE is that the (One Tree Hill) tower will be operational from this Friday."
The news comes as Elvis the firefighting aircrane has been delayed from service by four days. The Government says dock strikes in California contributed to the delay.
Read more on the Herald Sun.