Five decades have now passed since the fateful day Ararat Fire Brigade’s lost its first and only firefighter in the line of duty.
It has been 50 years since the the Bulgana fires which took the life of Ararat firefighter Ken Clark on January 8, 1969.
The fires at Bulgana were part of a series on a day marred by blazes across the state.
Overall, 22 people lost their lives in major fires at Lara, Daylesford, Yea, Darraweit, Kangaroo Flat, Korongvale as well as Bulgana.
“It was a day of very severe fire weather across the state,” CFA district 16 operations officer and historian Ian Morley said.
“There were 74 significant fires with seven listed as major. About 800,000 acres of land was last, 22 people died including three firefighters, about 230 houses were lost as well as 12,000 livestock.”
Mr Morley said while the fires near Lara were the biggest on the day, the blaze in the Bulgana and Mount Boswell was also devastating.
“It burned approximately 25,000 acres with a strong north-westerly wind helping the fire burn for 13 miles,” he said.
“There was a three mile (nearly five kilometre) front at one stage.”
Mr Morley said had it not been for a south-westerly wind change, Warrak was next to be hit by the fire.
“The wind change really saved Warrak,” he said.
There were also significant fires elsewhere throughout the region on the day, mainly in Tatyoon.
Mr Morley said it was while fighting the Bulgana blaze that Mr Clark lost his life.
“He has been the one only Ararat Fire Brigade member killed in action,” he said.
“It was a tremendous sacrifice made by Ken. When the new CFA facilities are open in Ararat there will be a memorial named in his honour.”
Community members were also caught in the fires, with some severely burned.
Mr Morley said he hopes people stay safe and make informed decisions during the fire danger period to ensure no such repeat of the fires from 50 years ago.
“We have come a long way since then, so hopefully we only talk about events like that from the past and don’t see anything of the like in the years to come,” he said.
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