MALLEE residents are being urged to be on guard and stay safe today (Thursday, November 21) after the Country Fire Authority (CFA)  issued a Code Red Alert for the region, and a day of total fire ban.

It is the first time a Code Red has been issued for the Mallee.

A Code Red is regarded as the worst conditions for bush or grass fires, with homes not considered to have been designed or constructed to withstand fires in these conditions.

According to the CFA, the safest place to be is away from high-risk bushfire areas, with Mallee resident being asked to consider evacuating ahead of time.

Residents are being urged to avoid forested areas, thick bush or long, dry grass.

Several schools in the Mallee and Wimmera have also been forced to close their doors following the Code Red Alert.

They include, but are not limited to: 

• Koorlong Primary School
• Murrayville Community College
• Nangiloc Colignan and District Primary School
• Ouyen P-12 College
• Underbool Primary School
• Wedderburn College
• Werrimull P-12 School
• Mallee Minors Child Care Centre – Murrayville
• Mallee Minors Child Care Centre – Ouyen
• Mallee Minors Child Care Centre – Underbool
• Mallee Minors Vacation Care Program
• Millewa Preschool
• Nangiloc and District Kindergarten
• Ouyen Preschool

Several school camps and excursions have also been cancelled by direction of the Victorian Education Department, which has also forced several bus routes to close to ensure student safety.

Residents are also urged to make use of public centres, libraries, etc to escape the heat, and to stay tuned to ABC radio for updates.