Source: Ballarat Courier
AS many as 20 properties could have been destroyed by a massive grassfire west of Ballarat, in the Victorian goldfields, today.
The Chepstowe-Pittong fire is active but contained, covering about 1100 hectares with a 17 kilometre perimeter, with 250 DSE and CFA members on site.
Authorities believe between six and 20 properties have been affected by the fire so far.
Part of the Western Highway was shut earlier in the day but has since reopened.
The CFA has issued watch and act alerts to people in the Bo Peep, Windermere, Cardigan and Cardigan Village areas. Earlier, residents of Carngham were advised to evacuate.
It has been reported that Carngham Station, on the Beaufort-Carngham Road, has been destroyed.
Power is off to many properties in the area.
Traumatised Chepstowe residents said they feared they had lost everything after the fire tore through.
There are grave fears held for a number of properties located on Station Lane, which runs off Beaufort-Carngham Road.
Station Lane resident Gayle Ellen watched the fire from a distance at a road block near Carngham-Trawalla Road, unable to tell if her family house had survived.
She lives there with her husband Ray, two adult daughters Kylie and Melissa and three grandchildren.
They have evacuated before, but have always got away safely.
"I think Ray managed to save 21 dogs, but had to leave three behind," she said.
"The last thing he saw was the fence on fire and he burnt his hand on the gate."
The town of Snake Valley is also crowded as locals gather to find out what has happened.
WHAT TO DO:
There is a risk to lives and homes, follow your bushfire survival plan.
If you plan to leave, or you are not prepared and there is a safer place near by, leave now if it is safe to do so.
Turn on your vehicle headlights and drive slowly; smoke will make it difficult to see.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure, the Department of Health advises people to seek medical advice or call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.
The City of Ballarat has set up a relief centre at the Wendouree Entertainment and Netball Centre in Norman Street.
The centre is for people who have evacuated their homes.
Red Cross have provided catering, blankets and mattresses have been supplied by the Salvation Army and personal support resources are available.
Beaufort-Carngham Road at Carngham is closed.
The Ballarat-Burrumbeet Road at Alfredton has reopened.
The Western Freeway, which was previously closed between Ballarat and Ararat, has reopened.