One structure was lost, but it could have been a whole lot worse after a grass and scrub fire took hold in Mount Clear on Tuesday morning.
Residents were forced to flee their homes as one of Ballarat's busiest thoroughfares, Whitehorse Road, was evacuated amid the threat to property and lives.
The fire began just after 11.30am behind a property in Tinworth Avenue. It is believed a campfire may have gone out of control and started the blaze which spread south-east quickly on the back of a strong north-westerly wind of up to 30 km/h.
Only a fortuitous wind change, which saw the wind move from north-west to the north-east, saved a number of properties on Whitehorse Road, with the change in wind pushing the flame towards the pine plantation on the southern side of the road, rather than towards homes near Geelong Road.
Incident controller Anthony Pearce said it was a miracle that more property was not lost.
WATCH A VIDEO OF THE FIRE BELOW
"We've had fire crews on the ground as well as aircraft and we've been trying very hard to get in and stop it spreading to the south," he said.
"We've had some houses under threat which we've been able to protect. There is reports of one small shed at a rear of a house that has been destroyed, although the crews were on scene, the fire behaviour was too intense to stop that burning.
"The crews have done an amazing job here today protecting the houses and police have done a massive amount of evacuations across the area."
Incident controller Pearce said the high fuel loads made it difficult for firefighters to access the blaze.
"We've have a challenge right from the start," he said.
"We relied on aircraft to attack it from above and we've also relied on dozers to get around it so we can create some breaks. The area the fire has burned through we had planned for a burn, but the weather conditions have not been favourable."
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