A LARGE grass fire threatened Kryal Castle yesterday, with staff evacuated as flames came within metres of the tourist attraction at Warrenheip.
The fire began after lightning strikes in Mahers Road, Bungaree, just after 3.30pm and quickly engulfed bush and grassland surrounding the castle.
Kryal Castle spokeswoman Erin Joyce said the fire came within 10 metres of the back wall of the venue.
“We knew something was wrong when the lightning hit and there was a lot of smoke very quickly,” Ms Joyce said.
“We called triple zero and probably 20 to 30 people were quickly evacuated.
“The CFA and Parks Victoria were very quick to arrive and looked after us very well.”
Ms Joyce said many of the evacuees left the area immediately, while some, including tradesmen working at the site, congregated in a designated evacuation area.
Mahers Road resident Adam Moran said the fire came close to his parents’ property, with one grass paddock burnt out “within seconds”.
“I saw lightning strike up near Kryal about 3.30pm and shortly after saw the smoke and flames,” Mr Moran said.
“The weather was crazy, it was like a dust storm with flames amongst it.”
Mr Moran said their property would have been under severe threat if not for the wind turning quickly.
“It got very close,” he said.
More than 20 CFA trucks from Ballarat and surrounding towns battled the fire for 90 minutes with the aid of a water-bombing helicopter.
Lightning continued to strike as crews fought the fire before heavy rain set in about 4.30pm.
A CFA spokesman said the fire was brought under control by 5pm.