‘Mini-tornado’ rips through Ballarat North

PHOTOS: Wild winds hit Ballarat

EMERGENCY crews responded to more than 65 calls for help yesterday after a freak storm damaged properties around Ballarat and caused power outages in the region. 

Ballarat North residents were in shock last night after tornado-like winds tore roofs off at least two houses, bringing down trees and fences and causing minor damage to other properties. 

SES and CFA crews from Ballarat, Ararat and Bacchus Marsh responded to calls for assistance, with four crews working until before midnight on the clean-up. 

The storm hit the city around 3.30pm, with reported winds of up to 80km/h and heavy rain. 

Ballarat North resident Peter Marquand said he was shocked to see the roof of his garage in Pinewood Drive torn off by the winds. 

A collapsed roller door on the building was left hanging from its frame. 

In nearby Atrium Drive another home received substantial damage, with beams, brickwork and windows collapsing from the force of the winds. 

“One of the neighbours rang me at work and told me what happened and I assumed some of the trees had come down and that would be about it,” Mr Marquand said. 

“You don’t expect to get a call saying something like this has happened, so it was a big shock.” 

Mr Marquand and his family surveyed the damage last night. A large section of the garage roof landed in the garden of a next-door property. 

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said he heard what sounded like “strong winds turning into a mini-tornado going down the street.” 

“I heard tiles hitting the road and the force of the wind sounded just incredible. The street is in disrepair,” he said. 

Amid steady rain, homeowners began to clean up debris before dark as onlookers expressed amazement at the scale of the damage. 

Last night an Ambulance Victoria spokesperson said there were no reports of injury from the storm. 

SES Grampians region operations officer John Hooper said the first crews were dispatched around 4.30pm and work continued into the night. 

The SES received as many as 50 calls in a 30 minute period yesterday, and Mr Hooper said residents had been asked to wait patiently for assistance from volunteers. 

“The worst of the damage appears to have been in Ballarat North and the area south of Humffray Street, where we have had a number of call-outs,” he said. 

“Buildings and homes have been damaged and there are trees down in backyards and over roads, as well as things like tiles and tin from roofs on the ground.” 

A spokesperson for Ballarat Police said officers had responded to calls around central Ballarat, with buildings including the Police Station, Town Hall and a number of businesses losing power. 

thomas.mcilroy@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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