Firefighting Effort 'Compromised' As Bushfire Rages South Of Ballarat

20/12/2015 10:05 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Australian Scenics via Getty Images
Bushfire burning trees near Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Victorian firefighters are in the midst of another gruelling day battling a number of out-of-control bushfires, including a blaze south of Ballarat that has so far burnt through about 4000 hectares of bush and destroyed homes.

On Sunday afternoon, fire authorities issued an emergency warning -- the highest alert possible -- for an uncontained grass fire burning near the Indigo Valley.

"There is a fast moving, out of control grassfire travelling in a south easterly direction from Barnawartha towards Indigo Valley," the County Fire Authority (CFS) said on its website.

"Spot fires and ember attacks could be up to 4.3 kilometres ahead of the main fire."

The CFS said it was too late for locals to leave and urged those in the area to "take shelter indoors immediately".

Another big concern is the Scotsburn fire near Ballarat, where a number of homes were lost yesterday.

A watch and act alert is in place for Mount Doran, Elaine, Clarendon and Scotsburn due to the fire, the CFS advises.

"Fire activity has increased and containment lines are being compromised. Additional emergency services resources are being deployed," CFS warns.

"Winds from the north have strengthened overnight increasing fire and smoke activity.

"The wind is expected to change to a west south westerly at approximately midday today which may cause the fire to move in an east north easterly direction."

Authorities said it was too early to determine exactly how many homes have been lost in the bushfire, but confirmed at least 8 properties and sheds had been impacted.

Fire fighters continue to battle the blaze at Scotsburn, with hot and windy conditions hindering their efforts and many regions set to reach about 40 degrees Celsius today.

A cool change is forecast to sweep across large swathes of Victoria later on Sunday.

The blaze has also caused a watch and act alert to be issued for nearby Grenville and Mount Mercer.

Another watch and act alert is current for Wandin North, Seville, Wandin East, Silvan, with a bushfire there still out of control.

"We would like to remind the community that (the fire) is still not yet under control," the CFS said.

"Fire fighting vehicles will be operating in the area today to ensure it stays within the contained area."

Wandin North local, Geoff Riddle, told Fairfax Media the fire had reached just a couple of hundred metres from his property.

"It's pretty daunting when you've got that wall of flames coming at your house," he said.

"You've got all your animals and your property and everything's there. And everything is in jeopardy, so it's a bit of a worry."

CFS said residents in the region affected by the Wandin North fire should avoid travelling on roads "due to falling trees and ease of access for equipment and trucks".

Damaging winds are forecast in the area on Sunday morning, with peak gusts up to 75 km/h, which could cause the fire to spread.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the key message was to be aware of rapidly changing conditions.

"If you are travelling to a new location, be aware not just of the circumstances you are leaving but the circumstances you are coming into. Have a plan and stick to it," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, fire bans are in place across large parts of New South Wales and the entirety of the ACT. One district of South Australia also has a complete fire ban in place.

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