Homes lost and firefighters injured as bushfires rage in Victoria

Five firefighters have been injured and homes have been destroyed as bushfires rage out of control in Victoria’s west and central regions.

The emergency warning for the fire at Newtown near Ballarat was updated on Tuesday evening telling people to evacuate immediately after a grassfire spread into the Ross Creek State Forest.

People living near Mount Stapylton in the Grampians National Park and nearby Bellfield were ordered to stay in place as it was too late to leave.

The Country Fire Authority confirmed five of its members had been treated by paramedics after running into trouble while fighting a blaze.

“Five members sustained minor injuries after their vehicle was involved in a burnover while on the fireground at Pomonal near the Grampians National Park this afternoon,” the authority said.

Reports emerged of house losses near Pomonal in the Bellfield fires, Forest Fire Management Victoria chief Chris Hardman said.

“We’ve had early reports that there may be some house losses as a result of that fire in Pomonal,” Hardman told 7News.

The Mount Stapylton bushfire is also impacting homes near Dadswell Bridge, according to the VicEmergency website.

People living in areas ordered to shelter in place should stay in their homes and prepare for ember attacks and any potential fire impact, CFA chief Jason Heffernan told reporters on Tuesday.

“If you are in the open or in a position where you cannot seek shelter you are to immediately try and make your way to a fire place of last resort.”

The Mount Stapylton fire is travelling west towards Dadswells Bridge and Ledcourt but conditions are “dangerous and unpredictable”, the emergency website said.

The Bellfield blaze is travelling south towards Pomonal.

The Newtown fire is travelling north from Italian Gully Road towards Scarsdale and Woodland Drive, including Skipper Road.

The fires are believed to have been sparked by dry lightning, with firefighters battling other blazes across the state.

“Those extraordinary temperatures and particularly those extraordinary winds … across the state really has been the perfect recipe for a bad fire day,” Heffernan said.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Kevin Parkyn attributed the out-of-control nature of the fires to the strong winds blowing across the region.

“The wind change acts as another mechanism to fan that fire activity and we’re seeing winds averaging around 50km/h and on the wind change gusting between 60km/h to 80km/h,” the meteorologist said.

The situation was expected to continue to increase throughout the afternoon thanks to strong gusts which temporarily grounded some firefighting aircraft but all are back operating.

“We’re still in the peak period, the significant winds, these wind changes and the heat is still there so there is still the potential for more fires,” Emergency Management Commissioner Rick Nugent said.

The fire situation remains dynamic and is expected to continue burning into Wednesday, Parkyn said.

“Once that wind change moves through and across the fire grounds, we’ll see gradual moderation, but it probably won’t be until well after sunset in the Grampians,” he said.

“We’re still expecting strong winds there right up until midnight, and then gradual moderation through to sunrise tomorrow morning.”

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