MELBOURNE - Schools, child-care centers and kindergartens closed Friday as residents in the Australian state of Victoria braced for another round of bush fires.
Friday was been labeled "spike day" because the Forest Fire Danger Index was expected to climb along with the temperature and northwesterly winds were forecast to blow across the fire-ravaged area, The Age reported.
The death toll from the Australian bush fire disaster was reported at 210.
Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin said people in fire-affected areas should decide whether to leave, or be physically and mentally prepared to defend their properties.
"Our message is very clear. Friday is expected and forecast to be a very bad day," Esplin said "We need that message to be heard by the whole Victoria community. We need everybody to be on their guard."
Parks Victoria warned visitors to avoid bush areas and park lands. National parks in high-risk areas were closed.
Officials said four uncontrolled fires still burned in Victoria.
Department of Sustainability and Environment chief fire officer Ewan Waller said he expected new fires to erupt and older ones to re-ignite.
Firefighters from New Zealand, New South Wales and Western Australia have been called to help the nearly 4,500 firefighters working the blaze, The Age said.
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