Melbourne Air Quality Drops To 'Hazardous' Levels As Thick Smoke Engulfs The City
Melbourne residents awoke to a thick blanket of smoke smothering their city on Tuesday after air quality dropped to hazardous levels overnight.
The CBD recorded hazardous levels of fine particles in the air from 12am to 4am and the air quality since been categorised as very poor by the Environmental Protection Authority.
Air quality forecasts for Geelong, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, central region, all of Gippsland and the north central region are all listed as hazardous for Tuesday by the EPA.
It comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $2.55 million inquiry will be held into Victoria's deadly bushfires, which are still burning.
The review will be run by inspectorate general of emergency management Tony Pearce.
Andrews said the response to this summer's fires had already been influenced by the royal commission into the fatal 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
But these fires have started early in the season and so Pearce has been tasked with examining the state's preparedness and response so far, with the first report due in the middle of 2020, ahead of the next fire season.
The final report is due in the middle of 2021.
Australian Open Qualifier Delayed
The smoke has forced Australian Open tennis organisers to delay the start of the qualifying tournament and suspend practice.
The new start time on the opening day of qualifying for next week's grand slam event will be 11 am.
"Conditions onsite are improving and are being constantly monitored," a Tennis Australia statement read.
"Further decisions will be made using onsite data and in consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from the EPA.
"As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority."
Organisers of the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne are also keeping an eye on conditions but expect play to start at the scheduled time of 1pm with the air expected to become clearer.
Firefighters have spent the night being called out to fire alarms triggered by the smoke haze.
The MFB told radio station 3AW on a normal night, crews would attend about 20 false alarms, but overnight they were called out to about 200, but each had to be treated as a potential fire.
Those with heart and respiratory issues are being told to keep out of the smoke, but even healthy people are being warned to stay inside.
The fires burning through Victoria's east and northeast have claimed four men's lives, 353 homes, and 548 other structures.
Sixteen fires are still burning and 1.4 million hectares have been destroyed across the state.
Slightly calmer weather forecast is allowing firefighters to try to build containment lines, while military personnel are working to make isolated towns accessible by road.