Grass fire north of Ararat at Saw Pit Road stopped form reaching Regional Park; Watch and Act alert issued for Crowlands

A grass fire north of Ararat on Saturday night was brought under control quickly in what the Country Fire Authority described as a ‘good save’.

CFA, the State Emergency Service and Forest Fire Management Victoria deployed 38 vehicles and three aircraft to fight the blaze that started at 5pm around Saw Pit Road.

CFA District 16 operations manager Bernie Fradd said he fire would still be going this week if it had reached hilly bushland areas.

“It was just a really good save,” he said.

“It had the potential to get into the Regional Park and if it had, in any significant way, the fire would still be going and would be very difficult to put out.

“There was some great work done by the brigades in pulling it up when they did.”

He said the CFA had not received any reports about houses or sheds being destroyed in the fire, but the CFA had saved one house while the fire was at its worst on Saturday night.

The CFA issued a ‘Watch and Act’ message, its second highest alert after ‘Advice’, for the 60-hectare fire burning 2.8 kilometres north of Ararat just after 6.30pm.

People in the Bulgana and Crowlands areas were advised to activate their fire plan and were warned against fleeing their homes and properties as the fire moved in a north-westerly direction. 

“Don't wait, leaving now is the safest option - conditions may change and get worse very quickly,” the VicEmergency website stated at the time. 

“Emergency Services may not be able to help you if you decide to stay.”

The fire was downgraded to the ‘advice’ level at 7.18pm and the fire was under control by 8pm.

Mr Fradd said just about every brigade from within 20 kilometres of Ararat responded to the fire.

CFA volunteers were still on the scene on Monday and will be there for the next few days due to the number of trees that were still smoldering. 

Residents in the affected area thanked CFA volunteers and emergency services but complained that people had blocked roads and ignored closure signs to get a better look at the fire.

Mr Fradd said is was “really dangerous” for spectators to enter a fire zone.

“It makes it harder for firefighters to concentrate on putting out the fire when there are people in cars using the same roads. It’s certainly not helpful,” he said.