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Buildings destroyed by Victoria blaze

December 19, 2015 4:22 pm

A number of buildings have been destroyed in a bushfire in Ballarat, Victoria, as strong winds threaten to feed fires burning in several locations.

Victorian firefighters were called to over 300 fires on a hot, windy day when temperatures topped 42 degrees Celsius in many parts of the state.

A watch and act alert is in place for Scotsburn, Elaine, Clarendon, Mount Doran, Bungal, Ballark, Lal Lal and Morrisons, but the Country Fire Authority (CFA) said fire crews had managed to slow the spread of the blaze.

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The CFA worked throughout the night to try and strengthen containment lines in the south of the state, as it prepared for strong winds to feed fires burning in several locations.

Teams in Wandin were focussing their efforts on the north east of the fire as they prepared for strong winds.

An emergency warning was issued after erratic winds fanned the bushfire on Saturday afternoon.

CFA spokesman Graeme Baxter said “we have lost some houses but I don’t have a number on that”.
It could include farm buildings and homes, he said.

A watch and act message was also in place for Buxton, Narbethong, Marysville, Granton and St Fillans for a small bushfire in central Victoria.

The CFA said it was travelling south from Buxton towards Narbethong and could impact that community.

Incident controller John Rolf said the fire at Scotsburn ran hard before a westerly wind change pushed the eastern flank of the fire towards Clarendon and Elaine.

Crews managed to stop the fire before it hit Elaine but there were reports a number of properties had been lost in an area south of Scotsburn.

“We’ve just got our on-ground firefighters in conjunction with Victoria Police just trying to ascertain the number of losses that may have occurred but I don’t have any figures at this point in time,” he said.

“In that area there are a lot of farmlets and small property holdings where there are a number of houses in that area.

“And also to the east where the fire has crossed the Midland Highway there are also a number of residences in that area.”

The fire is about 3500 hectares in size and 300 firefighters are on scene assisted by 11 aircraft including two air cranes.

Thunderstorms developed in the evening, bringing dry lightning which sparked new blazes in East Gippsland.

There were several emergency warnings earlier on Saturday for fires at Wandin North and Wonthaggi but they have now been brought under control.

Other fires continued to pop up across the state including a small grassfire one at South Morang, in Melbourne’s north.

Daytime temperatures in Melbourne on Saturday hit new highs with a top temperature of 45.1C in Avalon breaking the previous record of 43.2, Geelong was 44.4C and 43C at Aireys Inlet.

Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said it would be an uncomfortable Saturday night with the temperatures remaining high.

“Tonight is one of those nights that will stay hot across the state with the potential of seeing almost 30 degrees at midnight. It will not drop off,” he said.

“It will then increase in temperature then we’ll see a very hot day on Sunday.”
In addition State Emergency Service and Parks Victoria had 100 calls for help because of fallen trees.

Stronger than expected winds were forecast for Sunday ahead of an expected change around midday.

A total fire ban remains in place across the state.

“We now see extreme [fire danger] in north central, extreme fire danger rating and also central and total fire bans have been declared across the state … and will continue into Sunday,” Mr Lapsley said.

Paramedics were called to 1000 jobs including 22 incidents directly attributed to the heat and four children were locked in cars.

Paul Homan, from the Victorian Ambulance service said no-one needed emergency care.

“On a couple of those occasions the parents had left [the children] there, [while] they were in shopping centres and – the keys were left in the cars and the air conditioning going,” he said.

“That was their excuse.

“That is not an excuse. There is no excuse.”

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