Properties lost in two out of control bushfires in central Victoria

| 29.03,19. 06:31 PM |

Properties lost in two out of control bushfires in central Victoria

Photo: The grassfire has burned sheds and outbuildings and has threatened homes. (ABC News)

One fire is threatening homes at Bunkers Hill, Cardigan, Haddon, Kopke, Lucas and Smythes Creek.

A second larger fire is threatening properties at Mount Mercer, about 30 kilometres south of Ballarat.

Aerial vision of the fire showed at least four buildings, mainly sheds and outbuildings, and a number of cars on fire.

Another large structure that appeared to be a type of shed was damaged by fire at Mount Mercer.

Helicopter footage showed a chimney in the centre of smouldering ruins of one building at the Bunkers Hill fire but it was not clear if it was a home or some other type of structure.

Andrew Crisp, Victoria's Emergency Management Commissioner, confirmed there had been property losses.

"I have been briefed that there have been property losses at both the Bunkers Hill and the Mount Mercer fire," he told ABC Statewide Drive.

"I'm not sure if it's a big shed or a house. Our concern at this stage is to keep the community safe."

Mr Crisp said strong winds had hampered the battle to control the fire.

"There have been some really strong winds which has meant at times that we haven't actually been able to put up all our helicopters and planes," he said.

"The change has come through and it does create some potential issues for properties to the east of those fires.

"There's been some rain that's come through on the change but it's minimal."

Hay bales could also be seen in flames and firefighting helicopters are filling up at local dams and waterbombing the area.

It was understood there was lightning in the area accompanying a cool change but it is not clear if that was the cause of the fires, which all broke out around the same time.

The Bunkers Hill fire has burned through 150 hectares.

An emergency warning was issued in the area around 2:45pm but as of 5:30pm the warning had been downgraded to a watch and act.

Sandy, who lives at Bunkers Hill, about 5 kilometres from Ballarat, told ABC Radio Melbourne she left her car at a police road block and walked across paddocks to see if her house was still standing.

"It's standing. Thank God it's still standing," she said.

"We live on 14 acres and most of our trees are gone.

"Normally we have bushland at our window. It's cleared away from the property but it's just a beautiful setting.

"And there's flames. They're only about half a metre tall at the moment and the whole house stinks, but I don't care."

Sandy said there were firefighters all over her property and the sky cranes were firebombing.

CFA state agency commander Ross Sullivan said the cigar-shaped fire was initially being pushed by northerly winds.

"With winds at the moment around 55 kilometres per hour and gusting to 80kph there's a lot of challenges for the aircraft," he said.

However a wind change has now gone through, pushing the fires to the east.

Another emergency warning issued around 4:00pm remains current for properties between Meredith, Mount Mercer and Bamganie for another out of control grassfire which has burned about 200 hectares.

People in the area have been warned it is too late to leave.

The fire is travelling in an easterly direction from the Leigh River towards Bamganie.

The helicopter footage also showed a large shed on fire at Mount Mercer.

A third grassfire which had been threatening homes north-west of Ballarat at Addington and Learmonth has now been downgraded to an advice message.

An emergency warning had been issued around 2:50pm for the fire at Shearers Lane Addington which was travelling in a south-easterly direction.


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