Firefighters contain Blampied blaze threatening homes

FIREFIGHTERS worked through the night last night to contain a fast-moving fire that burnt through more than 30 hectares of grassland at Blampied, threatening nearby homes.CFA operations officer Gavin Hope said about 50 crews – including 40 tankers, a bulldozer and five air cranes – battled the fire as it burned out of control for about three hours yesterday afternoon.Firefighters managed to bring the fire under control before 5pm.Mr Hope said CFA and DSE crews would remain at the scene blacking out the fire until a skeleton crew of local CFA members took over patrols at midnight.“We’re going to be working into the night,” Mr Hope said.“We have crews running around the perimeter – there’s still lots at stake.”Mr Hope said five CFA strike teams – made up of about 20 trucks – would return to the scene this morning to stamp out any hot spots and keep the fire under control, ahead of the weekend’s higher-than-normal temperatures.The blaze burnt through 37 hectares of grassland and bluegum plantations yesterday, reaching the fringe of the Wombat State Forest just after 4.30pm.Warnings were issued to residents in Mount Prospect, Sailors Falls, Eganstown, Sailors Hill, Musk Vale and Blampied.Residents living on Telegraph, Suckling and Hurns roads were also warned of direct ember attacks near their homes.Parts of the Midland Highway between Ballarat and Daylesford were closed while the fire was contained.Mr Hope said bluegum plantations burning within the perimeter of the fire had proven particularly difficult for fire crews to control, and would again be a focus for crews today.“With northerly winds forecast again (today), we’ve got our concerns,” he said.“We’re concentrating on the bluegum plantation.”Mr Hope said the CFA believed a spark from an angle grinder had ignited the fire.“There were people grinding in a paddock down the road, and the fire has just taken off from there,” Mr Hope said.