Beaufort, Victoria bushfire evacuation: ‘Beast’ blaze closes in on town as 30,000 Aussies are ordered to leave their homes and 100 schools close


Follow Daily Mail Australia’s live coverage of the bushfire crisis in Victoria.

The Bayindeen bushfire, northwest of Ballarat, was still raging on Wednesday after authorities released a map showing the fire could rip through areas including Beaufort, Elmhurst, Glenbrae, Amphitheatre, Lexton, Learmonth and Clunes.

Residents in the affected areas – about 30,000 – were sent a text message on Tuesday urging them to leave by midday.

Watch CFA incident controller Jarrod Hayse provide an update on the Bayindeen fire

Mr Hayse said while the fire was ‘completely contained’, the fire’s perimeter was 157 kilometres.

There are about 500 firefighters out on the ground and in the incident management team.

Mr Hayse said the wind forecast for later on Wednesday afternoon was the biggest concern.

‘For every hour this fire doesn’t breach control lines, we’re in a really good position,’ he told reporters.

‘With this afternoon’s weather, there is a real liklihood that if a fire does start, it’ll be very difficult to supress.’

Bayindeen fire now contained, authorities say

CFA incident controller Jarrod Hayse said the Bayindeen fire ravaging Victoria has been contained.

Authorities are still monitoring the situation with temperatures still set to soar.

‘We’ll see temperatures rise, winds rise, and the humidity to decrease this afternoon, leading into this evening,’ he said.

‘We’re going to monitor the wind change throughout the day but we expect around sunset tonight that there could be a westerly wind change that could impact the fire ground.

‘Because we have a large fire in the landscape, there is a real risk this fire could breach containment lines and those communities could be impacted by fire or smoke or they’re cut off from essential services.’

Firefighters are staying prepared.

The Bayindeen fire has burnt more than 21,300 hectares.

Nearmap - High-resolution imagery of Bayindeen, VIC, post-bushfire, have been captured by Australian location intelligence firm, Nearmap. These images are provided to assist with response, rebuilding, and recovery efforts.

Three emergency relief centres open in Victoria

These centres are in Ballarat, Ararat and Maryborough.

Possible severe thunderstorms headed for areas impacted by bushfires

Parts of Victoria’s west may be hit with severe thunderstorms on Wednesday afternoon.

Meteorologist Dean Narramore, from the BOM, warned hot and gusty conditions for the state’s west on Wednesday afternoon would see fires ‘become uncontrollable and uncontainable’.

‘That wind shift late afternoon and evening could cause futher concerns for any ongoing fires,’ he said.

‘Dry lightning could also ignite new fires.’

The Bureau of Meteorology provides an update on fire dangers across southeast Australia

Planned search for missing mother Samantha Murphy is called off due to fire danger

Tori Baxter, from the organised search group Ground Crew, said many of its volunteers also worked with the SES.

‘Our volunteers have dual roles, we support them with their wider community engagement,’ she told The Age.

‘More large-scale searches are planned for the future, but it does take planning and commitment.’

Ms Murphy has been missing since February 4 when she went for a run in East Ballarat.


Fire bans issued for the following districts in South Australia

Extreme fire danger was also expected for much of eastern South Australia on Wednesday, with Emergency Services Minister Joe Szakacs warning the state’s firefighters were facing some of the harshest weather this summer.

Adelaide’s West Terrace hit a sweltering 34C at just 5am on Wednesday.

Seven South Australian districts had an extreme fire danger rating on Wednesday:

Current fire warnings for Victoria

A Watch and Act – Bushfire – Not Safe to Return alert has been issued for Amphitheatre, Bayindeen, Ben Nevis, Chute, Elmhurst, Eversley, Glenlogie, Mount Cole, Mount Lonarch, Main Lead, Raglan and Waterloo.

‘The bushfire at Bayindeen-Rocky Road is not yet under control and is still active in this area,’ Vic Emergency said.

‘It is Not Safe to Return to the Warning area. Firefighters continue to work on the fires edge. Aircraft and heavy machinery will be working in the area.’

Those in the area have been ordered to leave.

Tent base camp set up for firefighters

A tent township has sprung up in less than 48 hours in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat as firefighters and volunteers prepare for catastrophic conditions.

The 131-hectare Victoria Park at Ballarat has become a base camp for hundreds of firies ahead of Wednesday’s extreme and catastrophic fire danger across the state’s west, central and northern regions.

Firefighters could be there for more than a month, depending on how the rest of the fire season shakes out.

Victorian County Fire Authority deputy chief officer Rohan Luke said it had been a significant effort to set up the camp in such a short timeframe.

‘Base camps normally take a little while to set up,’ he told reporters at the site on Wednesday morning.

‘It’s a little township essentially.’

Tents are seen at the basecamp in Ballarat at basecamp in  ahead of crews and volunteers heading into battle the Bayindeen fire, Victoria, Wednesday, February 28, 2024. About 30,000 Victorians have been told to leave their homes as the state braces for catastrophic bushfire conditions. (AAP Image/Con Chronis) NO ARCHIVING

The camp has enough tents for about 300 firefighters and is already half full after the arrival of NSW firefighters on Tuesday evening.

‘There was 160 here last night,’ Mr Luke said.

‘When we bring night shift crews in here … there are tents inside air-conditioned marquees so that those sleeping during the day can get some decent sleep.’

Of the 160 campers, about 100 were from the NSW Rural Fire Service and another 25 with NSW Fire Rescue.

Mr Luke briefed the NSW strike teams on Wednesday morning and said morale was high despite many people driving more than 10 hours from Sydney.

‘They were able to get a good feed and a good night’s sleep,’ he said.

Two of the strike teams will stay put at the base camp for now and another two are headed to a pre-staging area at Ballan, east of Ballarat.

‘What we’ve done is separate the taskforces to allow them to give maximum footprint to cover a number of areas,’ Mr Luke said.

Authorities’ main concerns are the Bayindeen blaze, northwest of Ballarat, breaking containment lines under forecast high temperatures and strong winds and other blazes that could spark elsewhere from dry lightning.

‘We can’t predict where that is,’ Mr Luke said.

‘The catastrophic (fire danger rating) in the Wimmera is where the most critical fire weather will be but we can’t take our eyes of the rest of the state either.

‘There’s capacity in other parts of the state to ensure that any new fires will be jumped on straightaway.’

– Callum Godde for Australian Associated Press

Final warning given to those in the Wimmera region

Hazardous conditions are ravaging the area in Victoria’s southwest.

The Country Fire Authority’s (CFA) chief officer, Jason Heffernan, said no house was able to withstand the fires.

‘Unless your property is immaculately prepared and you have firefighting resources available, and that you are fit and mentally capable to sustain a long duration firefight in protecting your own home, my strong advice to community is leave early,’ he told the ABC on Wednesday.

Man is charged after driving his car on its rims, sparking four fires along the side of a highway

A 27-year-old man has been charged after he was caught driving his car on its rims in Buangor, in western Victoria on Monday evening.

Calls were made to police after the driver was seen travelling along the Western Highway with sparks flying from his green Mitsubishi Magna’s rims.

His driving allegedly resulted in four small fires being ignited along the highway which had to be extinguished by firefighters.

The man was also driving eratically, on the wrong side of the road and nearly collided with a pedestrian, Victoria Police said.

He attempted to drive through a park but was unable to go any further. He then got out of his car and tried to flee the scene before a member of the public stopped him.

He was then arrested by police and tackled to the ground before being taken away n handcuffs.

He was charged with reckless conduct endangering serious injury, drive whilst disqualified, careless driving, use unroadworthy motor vehicle and use unregistered motor vehicle.

He told Seven News if he had known he’d started any fires, he would’ve gotten out of his car and put them out.

‘I’m a silly bloke but I’m not that silly. If I started a fire I would’ve stopped and put it out,’ he said.

He also claimed he was unable to open his boot to change his tyre.

The 27-year-old was granted bail to face court on March 18.

Follow Daily Mail Australia’s live coverage of the bushfires burning across Victoria on Wednesday

Residents in Beaufort, Elmhurst, Glenbrae, Amphitheatre, Lexton, Learmonth and Clunes were sent a text message on Tuesday urging them to leave by midday.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan had earlier warned Wednesday would be the worst day of the fires.

‘Tomorrow is likely to be one of the most dangerous fire days Victoria has experienced in recent years,’ she said on Tuesday.

Residents in aged care centres in the affected areas along with prisoners from the Langi Kal Kal jail have also been evacuated.

As many as 100 schools have closed.

NSW Rural Fire Services prepare at basecamp in Ballarat ahead of crews and volunteers heading into Beaufort, Victoria, Wednesday, February 28, 2024. About 30,000 Victorians have been told to leave their homes as the state braces for catastrophic bushfire conditions. (AAP Image/Con Chronis) NO ARCHIVING
Key Updates

  • Watch CFA incident controller Jarrod Hayse provide an update on the Bayindeen fire

  • Bayindeen fire now contained, authorities say