Ballarat bushfire being treated as suspicious

A FIRE which ripped through bushland in Ballarat is being treated as suspicious after it was discovered the fire appeared to have been lit from multiple points. 

Click the image above for a photo gallery of The Courier photographer Justin Whitelock's photos from the scene.

READER PHOTOS: How Ballarat residents captured the smoke from their place.

Police are calling for witnesses who may have been in the Mount Pleasant and Golden Point area on Saturday afternoon and may have seen anyone acting suspiciously. 

The area just south of Elsworth Street West is frequented by walkers and joggers. 

CFA operations officer Malcolm Bruce told The Courier an investigation was still under way, but at this early stage, the blaze is being treated as suspicious.

While the fire tore through bushland in a residential area, firefighters say it was never a threat to homes. 

The fire started around 3.30pm on Saturday with an advice message released at 5.30pm saying the fire had subsided. 

Incident controller Lee Webber said an advice warning was put out because of the large amount of smoke that blanketed the area just south of Sovereign Hill.

"The only assets we had were a couple of things from the mine so we had [firetrucks] on them, so there were no houses under threat," he said.

Roadblocks were established on Elsworth Street West between Main Road and Britain Street.

A bulldozer was called into track an edge around the fire before it was listed as under control early on Sunday.

Residents in the area flocked to the fire with many taking picture on the phones and filming the blaze.

The Courier spoke to multiple residents who said they were prepared to leave their homes if the fire was upgraded.

Air support was originally called for the fire, however, was cancelled as the fire lessened in size.

However, a CFA plane was used to help map the fire.

"That is basically giving the size of fire and the fire activity and some advice on appliances and such," Mr Webber said.

Mr Webber said it was important residents stayed vigilant despite summer finishing.

"We have still got a fair period of time before we get any rain," he said.

"Until we get a fair dose of rain we will still have some trouble."

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.