The number of homes destroyed in a huge bushfire in central Victoria could increase, authorities fear, as fire crews assess the damage from the blaze.
But Euan Ferguson, chief officer of the Country Fire Authority, said that was likely to increase.
“What we’ve identified is around about eight structures which have been damaged or destroyed by fire,” he said.
“It’s difficult to determine from the air whether all those structures are residences or whether they might be sheds.”
The emergency warning for Benloch, Pastoria East, Pastoria, Nulla Vale, Baynton, Emu Flat has been downgraded to a Watch and Act message.
Fire crews said cooler overnight conditions gave them an opportunity to attack the fire.
Officials are hopeful the overnight work on the blaze will mean it can be contained later today.
“Today, there will be this focus on continuing the fire fight, defending homes which are having the fire encroach on them, but also, creating access and determining to get residents back,” Mr Ferguson said.
Joe Buffone, Victoria’s State Response Controller, said a lot of work was still being done to contain the fire.
“There’s still significant fire activity. There is still some fairly strong winds in that area even though the temperatures have cooled,” he said.
“We believe we will have a strong chance of containing the fire late into the afternoon, but obviously that’s still weather-dependent.
“So we’re asking community members in that area to basically protect themselves with the emergency warning that’s out in that area.”
The weather bureau is forecasting another mild day in central Victoria.
Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Peter Newham said by sunrise there would be much lighter winds which will hopefully make it easier to get the fire under control.
“During the day, winds probably won’t get over about 20kph or so compared to the 40kph [Wednesday] and 60, 70, 80kph [Tuesday].”
A recovery centre has been set up in Lancefield for locals and community meetings will be held throughout the day with key emergency authorities.
Crews are also battling a fire in the Tallarook Ranges, where the fire is heading in the direction of King Parrot Creek Road due to unpredictable weather conditions and difficult terrain, the CFA said.