Ballarat almost trouble-free despite hot, windy conditions

BALLARAT escaped a day of extreme fire danger relatively unscathed yesterday, with only a few small fires for emergency services to contend with.

The authorities were on high alert yesterday with a multi-organisation Incident Control Centre established.

Mount Clear residents were given a fright in the morning when smoke started billowing out of a pine plantation near Jones Avenue.

A Country Fire Authority spokesman said fire took hold of several eucalyptus trees and a firewood pile about 10.15am but firefighters had it under control within 20 minutes.

Just 0.1 hectares of land was burnt and the Department of Sustainability and Environment and the CFA are working with police to determine the cause.

A small grass and scrub fire re-ignited in Happy Valley, but it was controlled quickly. 

Crews also continued to patrol the grass fire in Yandoit which started on New Year’s Eve.

The state’s biggest fire was at Mt Richmond, close to the South Australian border.

It burned more than 50 ha, with more than a dozen vehicles and aircraft attacking the blaze.

Back in the Central Highlands, fire lookout observers kept a close watch over the region from eight different observation points.

DSE fire spotter Wayne McGuire was manning the tower at Mount Buninyong.

“Wayne has assisted in the detection of a number of fires in the Ballarat area over a number of recent days,” DSE Midlands District fire manager Merydth Whitehead said. 

“It’s an absolutely vital job.”