Fire ravages a power station near Terang. Supplied.
Fire ravages a power station near Terang. Supplied.

Victoria bushfire emergency: ‘Too late to leave’

SEVERAL homes have been lost and residents are fleeing to relief centres as a number of fires burn out of control in Victoria's southwest.

A strong wind change, from south-easterly to westerly, may make the blazes spread and put more lives, homes and farms at risk.

It's feared wind changes will make several fires converge into a monster blaze.

The major grass and bushfires began on Saturday afternoon and continued in warm, windy conditions on Sunday morning.

Emergency warnings have been issued for about 50 towns between Hamilton and Port Campbell, across an area of more than 160km.

Several townships have been asked to evacuate while others have been told it's too late to leave.

A number of homes have been lost in west Cobden, but the exact number remains unclear.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley says firefighters are doing an exceptional job on the ground and in the air.

But the fire are made potentially more dangerous by a wind change expected to come before midday on Sunday.

Danger zone: The bushfires that are affecting Victoria
Danger zone: The bushfires that are affecting Victoria

"We're getting the upper hand but it's still a dynamic environment," Mr Lapsley said on Sunday morning.

"Traditionally in Victoria, in that sort of country, we lose more ground after the wind change than before." Paramedics have assisted more than 20 people, some with breathing difficulties, but there are no reports of major injuries.

The fires are threatening dairy farms and cows across the affected area, and some machinery has been hit.

"We have had reports of impacts on houses and farming machinery," Mr Lapsley said.

A bushfire is heading towards the town of Hawkesdale and some locals are taking shelter at a basketball stadium in nearby Warrnambool.

Relief centres have also been set up at Hamilton, Colac, Camperdown, Port Campbell and Cobden.

A power station at Terang has been destroyed and residents of the area have been told it’s “too late to leave”. Picture: Supplied
A power station at Terang has been destroyed and residents of the area have been told it’s “too late to leave”. Picture: Supplied

A grass fire that razed a sub station at Terang continues to burn and residents in nearby towns have been told it's too late to leave.

The Terang-Cobden Road fire is the largest at about 12,000 hectares in size.

Corangamite Shire Mayor Jo Beard, which covers Cobden, told 774 ABC Melbourne that the fires took them by surprise and that a lot of houses and sheds had been lost.

She had heard stories that people had to "hunker down in dairies" to escape the fire.

Firefighters battling the fires through the night were unable to save a power substation at Terang on Saturday night.

The fires are being stoked by strong winds, gusting at 100km/h, and a wind change is expected to push Terang fire towards the western foothills of the Otway Ranges.

A number of roads have been closed, including the Princes Highway between Camperdown and Panmure, and many homes are without power.

Total fire bans have been declared for the Central and South West districts following unseasonably warm overnight temperatures.

Strong winds were expected to pass through Melbourne by mid-Sunday morning, reaching the state's far east by the early afternoon.

"From from that point onwards we will basically see temperatures drop quite a bit as well," senior forecaster Chris Godfred said.

"We'll see temperatures in southern Victoria drop to around 20C or maybe lower if you're right down on the west coast."

News Corp Australia

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