A downpour of rain on Sunday night brought welcome relief to firefighters battling a blaze that threatened the historic gold mining town of Walhalla.
An original 1860s gold era cottage was destroyed by the fire that emerged over the Maidentown ridge late Sunday afternoon.
Police said Walhalla residents were advised to activate their fire plans at 4.30pm. Between 4pm and 5pm the Brunton’s Bridge and Coopers Creek camping areas also were evacuated.
Walhalla Star Hotel proprietor and Baw Baw Shire councillor Michael Leaney said he had no doubt if it was not for the rain, anything not in Walhalla’s main street would have burned.
The fire was one of several fires burning across the area, with fire activity still dominant in the Thomson (Aberfeldy) and Walhalla-Stoney Creek fires reaching a combined 14,000 hectares in size, and another fire at Moondarra State Park.
Mr Leaney said about 12 permanent and weekender residents chose to stay at Walhalla on Sunday night. His hotel became the incident control centre for CFA, DELWP and Fire Fighting Victoria crews.
By 7pm, he said the fire had come over the ridge and was visible from the town. Extra crews were brought in about 8.30 to help battle spot fires.
By this stage, he said the eastern border of the town was “well and truly alight and there was major flame activity.”
“I could see the glow and see the flames as it came over the ridge. We were extremely fortunate – there was some brilliant work by CFA, DELWP and FFV crews, as well as locals.
“The reality is if we didn’t get 15.1mm of torrential rain, that ironically caused some flooding, the fire would have reached us.
“Last night was Black Saturday turned up by 10. We were getting spotting from one end of town to the other. Any building not on the main road would not have survived.