A total fire ban has been declared for Sunday across the South West and Central districts of Victoria, including Melbourne and Geelong.
Relief centres have been opened:
- Killara Centre at Camperdown
- the Cobden Civic Hall
- the Arc Stadium at Warrnambool
- Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club
- Colac Otway Performing Arts & Cultural Centre
The region is experiencing widespread power outages after the Terang Terminal Station exploded, causing significant damage.
Brett Gasper captured the substation fire at Terang on Saturday night.
This video of the outskirts of Terang was shared with The Standard’s Facebook page on Sunday morning.
Obviously a warning about driving responsibly and safely applies.
The video below, looking at the Gnotuk fire, was taken from the Camperdown Caravan Park lookout on Saturday night.
UPDATE, Sunday, 9.15am: More than 120 people took shelter at the Warrnambool Stadium overnight as fires raged through the south-west.
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell was at the centre this morning and said there were people who had fled from the fires at Hawkesdale, near Penshurst and Garvoc.
She said she had been told at least two houses had been lost at Hawkesdale and lots of farmland had been burnt.
“There are lots of people affected,” Mrs Britnell said.
She said the mood at the centre was supportive although apprehensive about what had been lost.
Mrs Britnell herself and her family had a frightening experience as they sheltered in their Woolsthorpe home from the “horrific” wind storm they helped fuel the fire before she came to the evacuation centre early this morning
She said her family saw a red glow on the horizon after about 7pm last night and contacted neighbours to get more information.
“The wind was horrific,” Mrs Britnell said.
“It was about 100 kilometres an hour.
She and her daughter and a friend headed to Warrnambool with the dogs and precious photos while here husband Glen went to a fire station to help.
However by the time she got to Mailors Flat, the wind calmed down and her husband Glen contacted her to say the situation was calming.
She and her group then went to the Woolsthorpe fire station where about 20 people had gathered.
There they heard about the worsening fire situation across the south-west before they returned home.
They remained on alert at home throughout the night, their anxiety increasing with the loss of power and phone landlines.
She said the loss of power meant they couldn’t recharge the rapidly dwindling power in their mobile phones and couldn’t keep in contact with fire alerts on the broadcast media.
To keep in touch with emergency services broadcasts, they drove a vehicle up close to the house and listened to its radio until the power returned about 6am.
UPDATE 9am: Terang fire
The Terang fire is likely to join up with the Garvoc fire today, Colac incident controller Andrew Morrow says.
The fire is still burning out of control.
"We are anticipating the Terang fire will meet up with the Terang fire," Mr Morrow said.
"It will have a westerly wind pushing it towards the Terang fire."
Mr Morrow said the Terang fire started about 9.30pm on Saturday night.
"A number of fires occurred, with very strong winds," he said.
"It started at Terang and burnt down towards Scotts Creek. The most recent mapping shows about 6500 hectares have burnt, however it will be larger than that."
Mr Morrow said a wind change would increase the fire.
"We expect the Eastern flank to spread out," he said.
"The immediate focus is on places like Simpson and Cobden and surrounding areas."
He said aircraft was going to be deployed along with heavy helicopters to fight the blaze.
He confirmed there had been some loss of houses and property, but the extent of the damage was still unknown.
"That will be a priority today to assess the impact and organise support and relief for people," Mr Morrow said.
"We will be getting a closer sense of the impact of the fire and looking at what may be appropriate timing for community meetings. There will be further planning this morning."
He said it had been a "very challenign night for firefighters and for the community".
"Relief centres have been set up at Killara in Camperdown, Cobden Civic Centre and the Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club," he said.
"There's also a large number of road closures in place, from the Princes Highway to the Great Ocean Road," he said.
UPDATE, Sunday, 9am: POLICE are warning people to stay away from the fire areas as traffic will be majorly impacted throughout Sunday.
Warrnambool police Sergeant Chris Moloney said traffic management points had been established and travellers could expect to be restricted from entering the fire areas.