BLAMPIED residents say water-bombing helicopters saved the day when an out-of-control grass fire threatened their homes last Friday.
The fire started about 2pm in Kangaroo Hills Road and prompted emergency warnings for Kangaroo Hills, Kingston, Leonards Hill, Mount Prospect, Sailors Falls and Muskvale.
The fire was initially thought to be about 500ha in size and a watch and act alert was issued for Daylesford and surrounding towns.
The Midland Highway was closed in both directions between Telegraph Road at Newlyn North and Old Ballarat Road at Eganstown and emergency services diverted traffic away from the scene.
More than 20 CFA fire tankers, DSE appliances and at least three water-bombing helicopters helped battle the blaze, which is now estimated to have burned between 50ha and 100ha. Kangaroo Hills Road resident Rebecca McCahon put her fire-ready plan into action and left her home when she saw nearby flames.
She wasn’t sure that she would have a home to return home to, but was relieved the Blampied fire did not claim any lives or houses.
The fire is believed to have been started by a lightening strike and the only casualties were a couple of sheds.
“It was scary,” Ms McCahon said. “But we’re fine now. Thank god for the CFA and Elvis, or whatever plane or helicopter it was.
“That’s what saved us... if anyone wants to do any fund-raising for anything we need more airplanes or helicopters or whatever because they are the ones that really impeded it going any further.”
The fire travelled around Rutherford Park, a school retreat, where about 100 school-aged children were on holidays and taking part in activities.
Three children were treated by Ambulance Victoria for eye problems caused by smoke, dust and debris.
Blampied residents were busy cleaning up after the fire yesterday and some were too unnerved by the event to talk to the media.
Some Daylesford residents also went into panic mode on Friday afternoon when they saw smoke from the blaze.
Sue Savage from Daylesford said some people had put their fire-ready plans into action, packed up everything and left town.
“I think the town did go into a panic,” she said.
“But I’m concerned there might now be a ‘boy who cried wolf’ syndrome.
“I’m hoping people remain vigilant.”