| 16.04,19. 03:39 PM |
Ballarat bushfire prompts emergency warning at Mount Clear and Sebastopol
Photo: Residents in homes along Whitehorse Road have been urged to leave. (ABC News: Bridget Rollason)
An out-of-control bushfire is threatening properties south of Ballarat, in central Victoria, and residents have been urged to leave before it is too late.
An emergency warning was issued at 12:20pm for the suburbs of Mount Clear and Sebastopol.
The fire at Tinworth Avenue was travelling in a southerly direction towards Whitehorse Road, Emergency Victoria said.
The area is near a pine plantation and police were telling residents to evacuate.
CFA incident controller Anthony Pearce said homes on Tinworth Avenue had been under threat and a shed was destroyed.
But he said fire crews and aircraft were now on scene protecting those properties.
Mr Pearce said it appeared the fire started in a pine plantation.
"The fire took hold very quickly," he told ABC Radio Ballarat.
"It was what we call crowning, burning into the tree tops, within a matter of minutes of us being called.
"The fire has spotted on the south side of Whitehorse Road and has taken hold in a pine plantation in there which is very inaccessible for ground crews."
Mount Clear resident Rowena Morgan said she came outside her house this morning to discover "dense black smoke with a glow to it".
"It was very intense and very frightening and I got in touch with my kids to get them home and rescued whatever we had in the house, what they valued," she said.
"You just don't think that you're ever going to be involved in a fire or a fire alert."
Ms Morgan said a similar bushfire had broken out in the nearby plantation about ten years ago, which had destroyed a home.
Mr Pearce said it was a windy afternoon and conditions could worsen.
"This fire is going to continue to burn at this stage if we're unable to hold it for at the pine plantation," he said.
"We'll be on scene at this fire for a number of days now. We hope to be able to bring it under control shortly.
"It's in inaccessible countryside with very extreme fire behaviour which is making it very difficult to get crews in."
A relief centre has been set up at the Buninyong Community Facility and Reserve.
People in the area were advised to leave by Geelong Road towards Ballarat.
A watch and act message has been issued for suburbs south-east of the fire.