Highway to Ararat closed

February 22, 2024 BY

High risk: Fire authorities have closed the Western Highway Between Ballarat and Ararat. Photo: CON CHRONIS/ AAP IMAGE

AUTHORITIES have closed the Western Highway between Ballarat and Ararat due to bushfire activity surrounding Beaufort.

The decision to shut the highway was made by authorities at about 4.30apm today.

The trainline to Ararat is terminating at Wendouree Station and no replacement services are available at this time.

A statement from the Department of Transport said the closure was under the control of emergency services and both the road and rail line would “re-open when it is safe to do so.”

A road detour is in place via the Sunraysia Highway and Pyrenees Highway via Avoca, however the Department of Transport statement said to avoid travel to the area.

The move comes after an evacuation order, was issued for Beaufort and sounding areas this afternoon.

Authorities are warning people to evacuate immediately or prepare to leave from multiple communities in the area, as spot fires push the blaze eastward.

“The smoke column has reached approximately 10 kilometres into the sky and for firefighters that means it is going to be very challenging but also a very dynamic and dangerous situation,” said Victorian Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Jason Heffernan.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said the fire near Warrak had moved through forested areas, burning at least 12,000 hectares and was spotting more than 600m ahead of the fire front.

Firefighting aircraft have been sent to fight the fire and protect properties in the firing line, she added.

To stay up to date with the situation visit emergency.vic.gov.au.