Paramedics treat three youngsters on school break after fire in Blampied

THREE school-aged children were treated by paramedics yesterday after a fast moving grass fire in Blampied threatened the holiday retreat where they were staying.

Ballarat Criminal Investigation Unit detectives initially investigated the cause of the blaze before putting it down to a lightning strike.

The fire started north of Kangaroo Hills Road just before 2pm and burnt out more than 50 hectares of land.

About 100 school aged children were staying at the Rutherford Park Country Retreat and doing activities when fire, fanned by strong north westerly winds, started to spread.

Victorian fire chief Craig Lapsley said the fire moved past the retreat where children were spending some of their holidays.

“Three of those children have been treated by Ambulance Victoria for smoke inhalation and problems of smoke and dust and debris around their eyes,” he said.

“None of them are critical and that is a very good thing.”

Up to 30 tankers and four fire fighting aircraft worked to contain the blaze, which destroyed at least one shed but no homes.

The fire was initially reported as being 500 hectares in size before authorities downsized estimations to below 100 hectares.

Mr Lapsley said the situation could have been much worse. 

“That fire had a huge potential to run into bush land and ultimately if it did . . . would have significant potential impact on communities such as Daylesford,” he said.

“The emergency warning that was issued was also brought up by telephone emergency based alerting system and we believe it has been very successful in the local community in communicating the potential of that fire.”

Incident controller Jon Rofe said the strong winds and high temperatures yesterday were a recipe for disaster.

“Having fires on a day like today is quite a concern, especially with a south-westerly wind change forecast which can increase the size of the fire front,” he said.

“The on-ground firefighters with the assistance of the water bombing aircraft did a fantastic job and they were also aided by the terrain of Kangaroo Hills Rd which assisted in slowing the forward spread of the fire as it backed down the hill.”

Road closures were set up on the Midland Highway between Newlyn and Eganstown as well as on other minor roads, but all were opened up to traffic once the fire was contained.

Mr Rofe confirmed the loss of one shed but said further losses were still being assessed.

evan.schuurman@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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