FIREFIGHTERS have battled 24 blazes across Victoria as temperatures soared and total fire bans were declared in five regions.
In the first big test of the summer bushfire season, a total fire ban was issued for the Wimmera, Mallee, north central, south-west and northern country districts.
A very high fire danger has been declared for the northeast, West and South Gippsland and the central region, with winds gusting up to 50km/h in parts.
Police have charged one man and are expected to charge another this evening for lighting fires during during a blaze ban.
A 37-year-old Baranduda man was charged after a number of bonfires were allegedly lit at a rural property at Mitta Mitta and left to burn overnight.
An 87-year-old man is expected to be charged on summons after allegedly setting fire to some vegetation at an Orchard in Cobram this morning.
Both fires were quickly extinguished by the CFA but Assistant Commissioner of State Emergencies Shane Patton, warned police would charge anyone who was reckless enough to light a fire on a Total Fire Ban day.
"Total Fire Bans are put in place to keep the community safe and police will continue to proactively target not only arsonists, but anyone who is reckless enough to ignore the bans and put lives at risk,'' he said.
"During a Total Fire Ban you cannot light a fire or allow it to remain alight in the open and anyone caught doing so could face hefty fines and potentially prison sentence.
"People must consider the warnings and if in doubt before lighting a fire, they should first inquire whether it is a Total Fire Ban day.''
The chief fire officer for the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Alan Goodwin, said Victoria was lucky the shrub and grass blazes were brought under control quickly but warned the next month would pose more risks.
He called for Christmas revellers to not let the festivities get in the way of fire safety.
"We have had 24 scrub and grass fires to date but we have been able to get on to these early,'' Mr Goodwin said.
"Maybe not today but small fires like these can can become large and fast fires, quickly.
"It is a reminder for people to be careful.
"Do not light a fire in a total fire ban it is illegal and campers need to remember to not leave fires unattended and put them out properly before they leave.''
Melbourne was forecast to reach 39C with Mildura expected to be the state's hottest spot, predicted to hit 42C.
But the extreme conditions caused thunderstorms in other areas.
Lightening strike caused a power in the north east near Myrtleford leaving up to 2000 people without power all afternoon.
A cool change is expected tonight but it could lead to lightning strikes and spark blazes.
Mr Goodwin pleaded for Victorians to be aware of fire safety throughout the season with more hot days expected to be on the way.
Go to cfa.vic.gov.au or phone 1800 240 667 for more bushfire information.
Fire fighters have contained a bushfire that was threatening homes in the NSW southern highlands.
More than 22 Rural Fire Service (RFS) trucks and two aircraft battled the blaze near Goulburn which burnt through about 150ha of grass this afternoon, an RFS spokesman said.
There were no reports of injuries or damage to homes, he added.
Fire crews will remain on scene to ensure the fire doesn't reignite.
They will also assess the area for possible damage.
Read more on the Herald Sun.