Victoria bushfire victims: 'We've lost everything'
A couple who lost their home and all of their belongings in a ferocious grassfire that swept through Victoria's west overnight say they are lucky to be alive.
Gail and Ray Stone left their Carngham home just minutes before the blaze erupted at around 3pm yesterday - a decision they say saved their lives.
Half an hour later they got a call to say that Station Lane was up in flames and they began to fear the worst for their home of 30 years.
"Then we heard that Carngham Station had gone up and we live across the road from Carngham Station so we knew we were gone," Mr Stone said.
The 1,300 hectare grass fire destroyed at least nine homes, including the Stone's home of 30 years and a 120-year-old homestead, 10 structures and killed hundreds of livestock before it was brought under control.
A pile of charred rubble surrounded by scorched trees and a blackened landscape confronted Mr Stone when he returned to assess the damage to his home this morning.
"There's nothing left, it's burnt to the ground," he told Seven News. "All we have left is what we're standing up in. Everything else has gone."
The couple say it is by chance they were not in when the fire swallowed up their home.
"I'm so glad we went into town because I really don't think we would have got out," Gail said. "Someone was looking after us."
Despite losing all of their possessions, the couple have not lost sight of the fact that no lives have been taken.
"Its only material things, it can be rebuilt," Gail said.
The couple plan to rebuild their home but for now will take refuge with family and friends.
Mr Stone was one of several hundred local residents at a community meeting in Snake Valley west of Ballarat on Wednesday.
During questions after the meeting locals said they had problems accessing the Country Fire Authority website on Tuesday.
The website experienced significant problems last Friday, but Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley has repeatedly reassured people the problem will be fixed.
One man told the meeting the site crashed four or five times and that links on the site were not working.