News State Victoria News Officials tally Bunyip bushfire’s toll: 29 homes destroyed

Officials tally Bunyip bushfire’s toll: 29 homes destroyed

Tonimbuk survivor Rex Newton surveys the charred wreckage of his obliterated home. Photo: ABC
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Victorian authorities have confirmed 29 houses were destroyed in a bushfire that was sparked by lightning strikes in the Bunyip State Park in eastern Victoria a week ago.

A further two houses were damaged by the blaze but were considered habitable, the state control centre said in a statement.

It said 67 outbuildings or sheds had been destroyed in the Bunyip fire.

A further two properties were destroyed in a separate blaze further east at Yinnar South.

“We are thinking about those families that have lost their homes at this particular time,” Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.

Authorities had previously said at least 11 structures had been destroyed — nine in the Bunyip fire, and two in the Yinnar South blaze.

A farmhouse burns at the height of the Bunyip bushfire’s wind-driven fury. Photo: ABC

Assessment teams have inspected 447 properties this week, and residents began returning to their homes last night.

Mr Crisp said the spate of bushfires that began last Thursday had burned more than 100,000 hectares.

He said 17 fires were yet to be brought under control.

Mr Crisp said about 2000 firefighters and 61 aircraft had been deployed to fight the ongoing fires.

Mr Crisp said about 2000 firefighters and 61 aircraft had been deployed to fight the ongoing fires.

Rex Newton returned to the twisted metal wreckage of his Bunyip home on Monday.

“I only have the clothes on me, and it isn’t that nice a shirt,” he told the ABC on Tuesday as he held a piece of melted metal from his roof.

Mr Newton said he evacuated his home as the flames reached the other side of the building, moving at an “unbelievable” speed.

“It just ‘whoosh’, and it was there,” he said.

Kate Hurford lost her home but says her sense of humour remains intact. Photo: ABC

“I went straight through, grabbed the dog, in the car and out.”

Kate Hurford from Garfield North left her home last Friday night after she noticed ash falling outside.

“I made the decision to leave quite early just so I could put some things together and head somewhere safe,” she said earlier this week.

She found out from neighbours her one-bedroom bungalow had been destroyed.

“It’s a bit surreal. Watching the emergency app, I was keeping track of the fire footprint so I knew there was a chance that it was going to happen, so I guess that gave me some time to brace myself,” Ms Hurford said.

“At the moment it’s just dealing with the now, I have a place to stay and I’m safe – the rest of that stuff, as much as it’s home, they’re just material possessions.”

Ms Hurford said keeping a sense of humour was helping her come to terms with her loss.

“I had a laugh with a friend yesterday that it’s the easy way to Marie Kondo your house,” she said.

“I’ve also said to my work colleagues that I only grabbed a bagful of clothes, so they’re not allowed to give me grief over the outfits that I show up to work in.

“I don’t want you to think that I’m not upset with the whole situation, but I need to keep smiling through it, just to get through it.”