Thousands urged to evacuate as wildfire rages near Ballarat, Victoria

Thousands urged to evacuate as wildfire rages near Ballarat, Victoria

An emergency warning has been issued for 28 communities west of Ballarat, Victoria, as residents are urged to evacuate due to an out-of-control bushfire. The fire, which ignited along Bayindeen-Rocky Road, is being fought by 1 000 firefighters with support from 24 aircraft and 100 vehicles. Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan and emergency officials emphasize the rapidly evolving situation, with no properties reported damaged yet but significant disruptions including road closures and power outages affecting over 2 100 customers.

Thousands of residents in 28 communities are being urged to evacuate immediately as an out-of-control wildfire threatens areas west of Ballarat, Victoria, on February 22, 2024. The Victorian Country Fire Authority has issued an emergency warning, anticipating a critical wind change expected to exacerbate the fire conditions between 18:00 and 19:30 LT.

Additionally, residents of nine nearby townships have been advised to leave as the situation deteriorates.

The fire, which erupted along Bayindeen-Rocky Road in bushland, has rapidly expanded, challenging the efforts of 1 000 firefighters attempting to contain it. Despite the scale of the response, which includes 24 aircraft and 100 vehicles, no property damage has been reported thus far.

Jason Heffernan, the chief officer of the Victorian Country Fire Authority, has warned that the fire’s intensity is likely to increase before any improvement is seen.

The Western Highway closure has significantly disrupted travel between Ballarat and Ararat, prompting authorities to advise alternative routes and urge those in the affected area to move east towards Ballarat for safety.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has highlighted the rapid development of the situation, with spot fires igniting ahead of the main fire front, and emphasized the importance of staying informed through emergency alerts.

Despite the emergency, no school closures are anticipated for Friday. The state government has reported that more than 2 100 customers are without power due to the fire, adding to the distress caused by previous storms.

The situation in Victoria is part of a broader pattern of severe weather and fire conditions affecting various parts of Australia. Emergency services have been on high alert, with extreme fire warnings also in place for South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia.

Thousands urged to evacuate as wildfire rages near Ballarat, Victoria bg
Wildfire near Ballarat, Victoria, Australia on February 22, 2024. Credit: NASA Aqua/MODIS


1 Thousands urged to evacuate as out-of-control blaze bears down in Victoria, Australia – The Guardian – February 22, 2024


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