A massive bushfire could potentially double in size and hit small farming communities in Victoria’s south-west, as the north of the state faces severe conditions.
There is a threat to lives and property with the south-west Victorian settlement of Drik Drik under direct attack from fire and embers, authorities said last night.
An afternoon wind change swung the 4000-hectare Kentbruck fire on a path to Drik Drik, an agricultural farming area of about 30 houses.
Authorities warned the out-of-control bushfire had the potential to double in size to 8000 hectares in an afternoon with westerly to south-westerly winds of up to 40km/h yesterday capable of pushing the fire a significant distance.
Fire services commissioner Craig Lapsley said the immediate concern last night was the Drik Drik area but the key issue would be today.
“It will be a fire that will be pushed with winds and we believe that it’s got the potential to move significant distance tomorrow, potentially block the Princes Highway and have further impacts on the rural community around Drik Drik and Dartmoor,” Mr Lapsley told ABC TV.
Nearly 500 firefighters and a dozen aircraft are battling the blaze, which started on Friday and has mainly burnt through pine plantation.
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) said there had been no reports of property damage or loss of life by early last night, dismissing earlier rumours that at least one home had been impacted by the fire.
A spokeswoman said there was still a risk to lives and property. A number of roads have been closed and most of the 250 residents of nearby Dartmoor have already left the town. Mr Lapsley warned the next 24 hours would be critical, but he said the Victorian towns of Portland, Nelson, Heywood and Mt Gambier in South Australia were unlikely to be directly impacted by the fire.
“We are doing significant planning on the potential of how large it could get, that is not a scenario that we would see at this stage, where those major centres would be impacted by this fire,” he said.
Mr Lapsley said the main concern today was for northern Victoria, which faces another day of hot conditions, with total fire bans declared in the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country and North East fire districts.