National

Bushfire smoke to return to Melbourne

By AAP Newswire

Smoke from Victoria's deadly bushfires is expected to blanket Melbourne once again this weekend, as some people living in the state's northeast are being urged to leave their homes.

There were 15 blazes still raging in Victoria on Friday afternoon, predominantly in East Gippsland and the alpine region.

Most were burning at 'watch and act' level or lower, but an emergency warning was issued about 6:20pm for a fire near Mount Buffalo which has caused spot fires in Nug Nug and is also threatening Buffalo River.

An evacuation order was earlier issued for the same blaze.

People living in Buffalo Creek, Buffalo River, Merriang, Merriang South and Nug Nug were told strong and erratic winds could "significantly increase" fire activity near them on Friday afternoon.

If the fire produces a column, there is high potential for spot fires in the Buffalo Valley.

Evacuation could be life-threatening after 12:40am on Saturday, Emergency Management Victoria has also warned.

The warning comes as a registration service has been established for people who fled Mallacoota, Genoa and Gipsy Point and want to return now conditions have improved.

When it is safe to do so, emergency services and the Australian Defence Force will begin flights or escorted road transport into Mallacoota and surrounds, Victoria Police has confirmed.

Smoke from the state's blazes descended on Melbourne early in the week, but was largely dispelled by midweek thunderstorms.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the reprieve won't last, with the haze set to return on Saturday.

"Easterly winds over the fire grounds are likely to push that smoke back into central areas," senior meteorologist Dean Stewart said.

"There is a bit of uncertainty as to how bad that smoke haze will be but nevertheless at least some smoke haze in the area tomorrow and Sunday."

While the midweek rain caused flash flooding in Victoria's west and metropolitan Melbourne, showers that did hit the alpine and East Gippsland regions on Thursday did little to help battle the fires.

So far the blazes have burnt through more than 1.5 million hectares, 387 residential homes and 602 non-residential buildings.

Five men have also died during the fires.

Some new fires were sparked by lightning on Thursday.

There are 1500 firefighters and 45 aircraft working on the blazes.

Among them are 130 international personnel and three additional contingents from the US and Canada are arriving on Saturday, Tuesday and next Friday.