Residents of several towns north of Melbourne, Australia, are being urged to take shelter as a large and fast-moving grassfire continues to burn out of control. The blaze, which began on Tuesday afternoon at Flowerdale, has already covered more than 700 hectares (1720 acres) and is heading north near the town of Yea, threatening homes and properties in its path. However, there have been no reports of loss of life yet, the Country Fire Authority has issued a shelter-in-place order as it is now too late for residents to evacuate safely in the path of the fire.
Waterbombing aircraft have been used overnight to control the fire, but the full extent of damage to properties is still unknown. As the fire rages on steep and inaccessible terrain towards forested areas, more than 50 Country Fire Authority units, supported by Forest Fire Management, are battling the blaze.
The fire is traveling in a northerly direction from Spring Valley Road, Flowerdale, and has now crossed Carver Creek, moving towards Yea Spur Road.
Smoke from the bushfire is visible across the surrounding areas, and an incident control center has been established at Alexandra to coordinate firefighting efforts. While no homes have been affected so far, the authorities are urging people to remain vigilant and be ready to evacuate at short notice.
With a heatwave warning issued for Victoria and temperatures expected to remain above 30 degrees Celsius/90F for the next three days, there are fears that the fire could spread rapidly.