Houses lost and community in shock at Scotsburn | Photos, Video

  • Emergency warnings for Clarendon, Scotsburn and Elaine

4.45pm

Downgrade to CFA advice for the Scotsburn, Clarendon, Mount Doran, Elaine areas.

The Finns Road - Scotsburn fire continues to burn within containment lines, with no current threat to communities.

Midland Highway is closed from the top of Mount Buninyong to Elaine -Morrisons Road.

UPDATE:

Wild weather continues to make things difficult for firefighters  across the state but a rain belt that crossed over the Scotsburn fires about 2pm may bring some relief.

The temperature has dropped 12 degrees in just over an hour with light rain falling and the wind, shifting to the southwest, is also slowly subsiding in strength.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley explained the difficulty of shifts in wind direction as they tended to make formerly safe ground a potential firefront.

"The reason we emphasise wind change is that things change when the winds change," he said.

"If we have a fire running, it's fed with a northerly, it changes direction and it's very dynamic and can become an unsafe fire ground not only for our firefighters but our communities too."

He said the 4000ha Scotsburn fire, near Ballarat, was still of critical concern and at least eight buildings had already been destroyed.

The volatile conditions at Scotsburn had caught many off guard, he said.

Three CFA crews, in two separate incidents, were lucky to escape when their vehicles became trapped when a storm cell ran into the smoke plume at Scotsburn, pushing the fire to the west while the winds hit from the north.

"That actually caught firefighters out," he said.

The trapped crews activated the sprinklers over the trucks and huddled under fire retardant blankets until the danger had passed.

It's believed the Scotsburn fire was started by a spark from machinery operating in a paddock.

2.50pm

Central Highlands Water issue a statement saying none of their assets are under any risk from the Elaine , Scotsburn & Clarendon fires, including the Lal Lal reservoir.  

1.40pm

Advice for Mount Mercer and Grenville residents to leave now.

1.10pm

Watch and act message issued for Mount Mercer and Grenville.

The Finns Rd-Scotsburn fire continues to burn within containment lines.

Winds from the west are strengthening causing increased fire and smoke activity.

Currently no immediate threat to communities.

12:20pm

Shane Donovan at the meeting. Pic: Luka Kauzlaric

Shane Donovan at the meeting. Pic: Luka Kauzlaric

When the blaze first started, Shane Donovan looked across the hills from his home in Durham Lead, and saw the smoke.

It was around 3pm on Saturday. Donovan immediately called his neighbour, a CFA volunteer, and the response could not have been clearer.

“It’s a cracker,” he said. “Get out.”

Donovan and his wife, Vicky, had already packed a box of crucial belongings like marriage and birth certificates, along with phones, wallets and spare clothes.

“We grabbed all that,” he said, “and we got out.”

The couple were allowed to return around 5:30pm on Saturday. On the drive back they noticed a nearby neighbour’s house was fine. They had some hope.

Then they saw a shed, burnt out. The road was scorched also, and there at the end of it was their house, the roof collapsed and chimney exposed, tree trunks smouldering – a home razed and ruined in one afternoon.

Donovan, a semi-retired database programmer, has lived here three years, having searched all over Victoria – for four years – for this perfect parcel of land.

It was self-sufficient, with solar-power, two water tanks, two dams, five chooks (now dead), and a veggie patch with broad beans just starting to sprout.

Insurance will help them rebuild. First they will move into a furnished flat, then a rental property, and then hopefully create a new beginning. But it is hard to focus on anything right now except that which is gone - up in smoke.

“This was my dream,” he said. “I’ve lost everything.”

12:00pm

A huge crowd of residents headed to the Buninyong Town Hall for a community meeting this meeting. 

Ballarat MP Catherine King, who attended the meeting, said she was hopeful fire crews could  control the fire today as the cool change comes through the region. 

“Some very good people have come out this morning to access  information but what was really obvious was that people have come out to find out how they can support their neighbors,” she said. 

“We heard the IGA supermarket across the road has already donated all of their bottled water, it is great community spirit but it is always going to be a tough day for fire crews and a tough day for some families who are going to learn they have lost some property but it is really important that people stay safe and keep off the fire grounds.

“Hopefully they can really knock it on the head today.

“There are obviously a lot of people affected and this community is great at stepping in and helping and that was very obvious from the meeting here today.”

10.30am

Premier addresses the state.

Eight buildings including housing and sheds have been impacted by the Scotsburn fire.

Over 4000 hectares have been burned.

Piece of farm machinery being investigated as the cause of the Scotsburn fire.

9.30am

Temperatures are expected to soar to 35 degrees today before a cool change comes through. 

With strong winds expected fire crews will remain on scene throughout the day. 

This fire is approximately 3900 hectares in size.

A watch and act warning is still in place for Scotsburn, Grenville, Mount Mercer, Mount Doran, Elaine and Clarendon. 

Winds from the North have strengthened overnight increasing fire and smoke activity.

The wind is expected to change to a West South Westerly at approximately  midday today which may cause the fire to move in an East North Easterly direction.

The Midland Highway is closed from the top of Mt Buninyong to the Midland Highway-Boundary Rd intersection.

Yesterday

7.30pm

Firefighters will work throughout the night to control the fires as the high temperatures return to the area on Sunday. 

State control centre spokesperson Graeme Baxter Spokesperson said the fire warnings had recently been downgraded with temperatures dropping 10 degrees. 

While Mr Baxter was able to confirm some buildings had been been destroyed in the fire he was unable to say how many. 

“The conditions have moderated in the last hour or so, humidity has picked up making it easy to get control,” he said.  

“There is some lightening across the south west which is a concern for the immediate area. 

“Crews will be working through the night as much as they can.” 

Mr Baxter reminded residents that Sunday was also a day of total fire ban. 

“There are lots of resident is the area, it is a 3000 hectare fire, residents will be seeing and smelling the smoke throughout the night.,” he said.  

Mr Baxter also advised residents who did not live in the area to stay away from the fire zone. 

 A Watch and Act is still in place in the area with the Finns Rd, Scotsburn scrub and grassfire  not yet under control.

The fire crossed the Midland Highway and is currently in the vicinity of Clarendon-Blue Bridge Road and Mt Doran-Egerton Rd.

There is another wind change expected anytime in the next two hours which will cause the fire to move in a south easterly direction towards Cargerie

7.00PM

At least one house is believed to have been lost in the blaze. However, there are reports of more. 

Ambulance Victorian have confirmed no one has been transported to hospital so far as the fires continue to burn. 

A watch and act is now in place for the area after previously having an emergency warning. 

6.30PM

Reports of a home lost in the fire…

Via @redduckbeer on Instagram: “just heard from Rob, mt buninyong winery just missed by fires today, but the neighbours house is gone. hot and scorching. sirens in the background and he had to go.. might put the brakes on our @redduckbeer staff party which was at the winery tomorrow. hope for more rain so we can get out there and at least have a cold beer and say thanks to the fickle gods or demons..”

6.15PM

5.25PM

5.15PM

An emergency warning has been issued by Country Fire Authority for Clarendon and Scotsburn.

There is a fast-moving, out-of-control grassfire travelling in a easterly direction towards Clarendon and Scotsburn.

You are in danger, act now to protect yourself.

It is too late to leave. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately.

Safety information

When indoors:

  • Close all exterior doors, windows and vents and turn off cooling systems
  • Shelter in a room that has a door and or a window to the outside. It is critical to keep an eye on what is happening with the fire

If you cannot get indoors, other last resort options include:

  • A large open area like a ploughed paddock, football oval or sporting reserve
  • A large body of water like a dam, lake, river, the ocean or inground pool
  • Try to protect yourself from the fire's heat

In the car:

  • Park behind a solid structure to block the fire's heat or pull over to a cleared area
  • Try to position the car towards the approaching fire
  • Put on your hazard lights and headlights
  • Turn the engine off, close all windows and ensure that car air vents are closed
  • Get down as low as possible below window level and cover up with a woollen blanket

If you are travelling, do not enter the area, U-turn to safety.

4.50PM

4.40PM

An emergency warning has been issued for Elaine.

There is a fast-moving, out-of-control bushfire travelling in a easterly direction from Horsehill Road and Narmbool Road heading towards Elaine.

You are in danger, act now to protect yourself.

It is too late to leave. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately.

Safety information

When indoors:

  • Close all exterior doors, windows and vents and turn off cooling systems
  • Shelter in a room that has a door and or a window to the outside. It is critical to keep an eye on what is happening with the fire

If you cannot get indoors, other last resort options include:

  • A large open area like a ploughed paddock, football oval or sporting reserve
  • A large body of water like a dam, lake, river, the ocean or inground pool
  • Try to protect yourself from the fire's heat

In the car:

  • Park behind a solid structure to block the fire's heat or pull over to a cleared area
  • Try to position the car towards the approaching fire
  • Put on your hazard lights and headlights
  • Turn the engine off, close all windows and ensure that car air vents are closed
  • Get down as low as possible below window level and cover up with a woollen blanket

If you are travelling, do not enter the area, U-turn to safety.

If you are away from home, do not return.

For life or property-threatening emergencies call 000

If you need medical advice for burns or smoke exposure call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024

4.15PM

4.10PM

Local resident Christopher Bond was watching over his Scotsburn property as fires burned hundreds of metres away.

"I'm not concerned at the moment but it looks like the bottom half of my property is on fire," he said

"If it stays like this my house will be okay but if it changes I’m leaving.

"It is getting closer."

4PM

Earlier

EMERGENCY services crews are en route to a number of small bushfires south of Ballarat.

The fires are burning in the Scotsburn and Durham Lead area.

A watch and act warning has been issued for the region.

A small scrub and grassfire is travelling fast in a southerly direction from Finns Road, Scotsburn.

It is not under control.

The Country Fire Authority advises people to leave now as conditions could change and get worse very quickly.

Emergency services might not be able to help if you decide to stay.

Travel to the home of family or friends that is away from the warning area.

When driving, slow down and turn on your headlights; smoke will make it difficult to see.

Safety information:

  • Remember to take your prescriptions and medication, photo ID, bottles of water, your mobile phone and charger and consider what you will do with your pets.
  • If you have time, check your neighbours to see if they are monitoring conditions.
  • Contact a family member or friend to tell them what you plan to do.

Stay informed:

  • Via www.emergency.vic.gov.au
  • Tune to ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations or Sky News TV.
  • Call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667.
  • If you need medical advice for burns or smoke exposure call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.
  • Deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment can contact VBIL via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677.
  • For help with English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450(freecall) and ask them to telephone VBIL. If you know someone who cannot speak English, provide them with this number.
  • Download the FireReady App and follow Vic Emergency on Twitter (#VicFires) or Facebook.

More to come.