UPDATE: FIREFIGHTERS in Victoria's east fear the bushfires they're battling could deliver their greatest challenge around 2pm tomorrow.
The Bureau of Meteorology has advised the strongest winds are expected early, around 5am.
However, the bureau says the SW change is not expected to reach the Gippsland coast until around 2pm - and later further inland from the coast. By early evening it says the south-westerly change will have moved through the far east of the state.
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Incident Controller Dennis Matthews told reporters wind gusts through the Gippsland area could reach up to 80km/h.
He said the change in wind direction had the potential to create "runs of fire in the hours of darkness".
The latest weather forecast surrounding the Aberfeldy-Donnellys bushfire shows upper winds (1000 metres above sea level) will increase from 10pm tonight.
These winds are predicted to be 20-25km an hour from the north-north west.
From midnight, winds are expected to be 35km an hour north-north west, and slowly build continuously overnight to 6am.
After this, constant 55km north-north west winds are predicted until the south west change at around 3pm tomorrow afternoon.
Under these conditions, the southern edge of the fire could breach control lines, a Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesperson said.
"On the Gippsland Plains, the afternoon south westerly change is expected earlier,'' the spokesperson said.
"It is expected to turn south-south westerly to 35km/h per hour, until 7pm, where it is expected to change south easterly overnight Friday night Saturday morning.''
The CFA reminded people not to reply on just one source of fire information.
Today, crews across the state are fighting blazes ahead of forecast temperatures in the high 30s.
A fire at Harrietville near Mt Feathertop in the state's northeast is threatening towns and ski resorts. Falls Creek residents are on a Watch and Act alert and have been told that a change of wind direction overnight could send a fire towards the village.
A Community Support Centre has been set up at the Bright Community Centre, Railway Ave and theGreat Alpine Rd is closed between Harrietville and Hotham Heights.
Forecast high temperatures and volatile winds, along with a plentiful dry fuel load, means there is also a risk of grassfires breaking out in central Victoria around Castlemaine, Maryborough and Avoca, and in the west between Horsham and Warrnambool.
Authorities have declared a total fire ban in the southwest district of the state.
Authorities have urged all residents south and east of the Aberfeldy-Donnellys fire which includes Erica, Rawson, Walhalla, Heyfield, Maffra, Glengarry, Toongabbie, Coongulla, Newry and surrounding districts to prepare and act on fire plans early.
Mr Matthews said there were 60-70 dozers, a dozen aircraft and hundreds of people tackling the Aberfeldy-Donnellys blaze.
Overnight crews worked to consolidate containment lines and constructed fall back lines around the fire.
The fire is about 65,000ha in size.
Mr Matthews urged people to monitor their radios overnight for the latest information.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said access issues with the FireReady app were disappointing.
"We've definitely got a glitch in the system but when it's working it's very good," Mr Lapsley told ABC Radio.
"We'll continue to improve that."
Asked whether climate change had impacted fire conditions, Mr Lapsley said modelling showed once in 20-year fires will now become more common.
"(The models are) saying, expect one of those catastrophic code red type days once every two to three years," Mr Lapsley said.
"We think we've moved into different environmental conditions where we'll see that once every four to five years."
A DSE spokesperson said people should keep up to date with local warnings and advice.
"It is extremely important heading into these severe fire conditions that you keep on top of weather and fire conditions,'' the spokesperson said.
"Decide your trigger to leave and don't wait until it's too late.''
The CFA recommends taking the following things when evacuating:
- Medication, protective clothing, drinking water, personal identity documents, mobile phone charger, battery powered radio, change of clothes and personal hygiene items.
"If your plan is to stay and defend your property make sure your fire pumps and generators have been tested to ensure they are in good working order (always use fresh fuel), make sure your fire hoses reach around your entire house and that they are not perished or have holes, have plenty of drinking water and food at hand, check you first aid kit and battery radio and make sure you have good quality protective clothing (long sleeved shirts and trousers) as well as sturdy boots and a wide brimmed hat. Gloves and goggles should be worn as well.''
A number of roads in the Licola, Seaton and Aberfeldy areas remain closed.
There is limited access for local residents.
Visit the CFA website, phone the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on 1800 240 667, listen to emergency broadcasters; ABC radio, commercial radio and designated community radio stations, SKY News Television and follow CFA via Twitter (@cfa_updates) and Facebook (/cfavic) or the FireReady app.