Fire update – three homes lost

A helicopter helps tackle yesterday's blaze. Picture: Wayne Rigg, the CFA.

A helicopter helps tackle yesterday's blaze. Picture: Wayne Rigg, the CFA.

9.30AM: Video footage, captured by Wayne Rigg from the CFA, has emerged. 

Watch the footage below.

A community meeting has also been announced and will be held at the Learmonth Bowling Club at 11am.

7AM UPDATE: Three houses have been lost to the bushfire at Mt Bolton.

Victoria's emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley said one of the homes was on a farm near Mt Bolton.

"We now see over 143 homes have been lost in Victoria during this fire season. That's devastating in itself," he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

Mr Lapsley said they expected more property damage reports as the day unfolded with farming infrastructure expected to be heavily impacted.

The cause of the fires is still under investigation, but urged people to take care.

"It doesn't mean to say we've got malicious arsonists ... but it is concerning that we still have total fire ban days, days of severe weather where we see fire starting. We had over 400 fires reported yesterday."

Parts of Victoria are subject to a total fire ban on Wednesday as the mercury looks to soar well into the 40s again.

The Mallee, Northern Country, North Central and North Eastern districts have been assigned severe fire danger warnings as strong winds and high temperatures create perfect conditions for fires.

The Bureau of Meteorology's senior forecaster Dean Stewart says fresh northwesterly winds of 30 to 40km/h across northern areas of the state will make "any fires very difficult to control".

But while temperatures along the Murray will exceed 40C, southern Victoria will experience only low 20s, with Melbourne reaching a top of 29C.

VIEW THE FRIGHTENING AERIAL PHOTOS OF THE FIRE FROM ABOVE HERE

OVERNIGHT: WALLS of fiery flames and plumes of smoke could be seen for miles as a severe, fast moving bush fire moved through Mount Bolton on Tuesday afternoon. 

More than 60 CFA trucks and 10 strike teams were enforced in an attempt to contain the fire amid changing weather conditions. 

While official reports of properties lost are yet to be confirmed, a couple told The Courier their house and business was destroyed by the fire.

Lynette and Noel Frunks lost hundreds of birds and their home when their Mount Bolton Homestead and Poultry Stud was burned to the ground. The couple, whose house was nestled deep in the forest, had lived there for a number of years and are now desperately seeking homes for hundreds of day old ducklings who survived.

“We have nothing but the clothes on our backs …. not even a stick of deodorant,” Ms Frunks said. 

Ms Frunks said the couple had done everything they could to prepare for the fire, but in their 10 years in the area had never faced anything as vicious as the conditions on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Frunks rescued the ducklings that survived, but said falling trees on their properties and small spot fires meant the area remained quite dangerous. 

The fire threatened many nearby communities in the late afternoon. Residents from surrounding areas were initially told to leave, that alert was downgraded to an advice message by around 6.30pm. 

WATCH A TIME-LAPSE OF THE FIRE FROM SKIPTON BELOW

The fire burned more than 890 hectares, with a number of spotfires starting in surrounding areas. At the scene CFA district 15 operations officer Gavin Hope said firefighters were ready to face changing conditions, with the biggest concern the eastern flank of the fire. On Tuesday night, a state control centre spokeswoman confrimed asset protection officers would be visiting the area and surveying it for damage.

“We can tell you that there is no longer any threat to the community,” the spokeswoman said.

A relief  control centre for affected residents from Learmonth, Coghills Creek and Glendaruel has been established at Coiinda in Wendouree, with the first meeting taking place on Tuesday night. Former firefighter and Addington resident Rod, who did not want his surname published, said the fire was the worst he had seen in the area. At its worst point, the fire was mere kilometres from his property.​

“Within 10 minutes of me first noticing smoke it had come up over the mountain,” Rod said.

The fire is believed to have started near Lavery’s Road and was initially headed south-west towards Addington road. Police blocked access points including the Sunraysia Highway.

Residents, who were watching the fire spread from a hill, said they were concerned about spot fires and had prepared their properties for the worst – hosing them down. 

They said there was little else they could do. Firefighters were forced to quickly fend off fast moving flames metres from a CFA station in Glendaruel.

Emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley told the media in a briefing there had  been some 115 fires around Victoria.

To help the Frunks, who are also looking for four of their seven cats call Ms Frunk on 0458 228 033.