Victorian residents return to see bushfire disaster zone

Krystal Johnson

Piles of ash and a twisted tin roofs are all that remains of some of the homes at Wye River as firefighters now work to clear power lines and fallen trees to prevent further tragedy.

The confronting scenes were hard to process for residents who were able to visit their hometowns Monday to inspect the damage following the Christmas day fire storm.

No-one died in the fires, although three firefighters suffered minor injuries.


About, 2200 hectares of blaze tore through 98 homes in Wye River and 18 homes at Separation Creek lost.

Buses have been arranged for residents of Wye River and Separation Creek to inspect fire impacts at Wye River and Separation Creek.

The bus will depart from the Apollo Bay School Library, Pengilley Avenue, Apollo Bay 3233 at 9.00 am and 12.30 pm, Monday 28 December 2015.

This will be the final bus until the areas have been declared safe for residents to return.



Popular tourist town of Lorne was temporarily deserted. Source: AAP

The Weather Bureau is forecasting extreme temperatures across the state again on New Year's Eve when temperatures are expected to hit 37 degrees.

The Insurance Council of Australia has labelled the bushfire a catastrophe and the $25 million damage bill is expected to rise.

Usually at this time of year the surf coast would be bustling with holiday makers but its charred shoreline is now empty and businesses are expected to lose almost $40 million in revenue.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said residents had shown courage in the face of the adversity.

"People were looking out for each other and there was a sense of love and care and compassion," he told 7 News.

Those affected will soon be able to access up to $1300 in emergency relief funds.

Surf Coast Shire councillor Clive Goldsworthy said the Spirit Foundation was set up in 2013 to help locals in need.

"We see this as part of Lorne community - we dodged the bullet and unfortunately Wye River and Separation Creek didn't," he told ABC 24.

Community plan saved Vic bushfire towns

It is believed a 30-year-old fire plan has saved two Victorian holiday towns from being wiped out.

"I would have thought they would have lost at least 200 homes in this town," Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley told reporters on Sunday.

"This brigade, this community, actually had a community plan that had planned for many years about a fire coming into Wye River. This is not new to them.

Local CFA brigade captain Roy Moriarty said Wye River's fire safety plan - first written in 1984 - had helped save the town.

"I couldn't believe that we've saved as many houses as what we've saved," he told reporters.

"I did expect three times more than that to go, at least."

Mr Moriarty said when homeowners contacted him, he gave it to them straight.

"You've got to tell them - if their house is gone, their house is gone," he said.

Koala saved from Vic bushfires

A lucky koala has been saved from a fiery death by compassionate firefighters battling a blaze along the Victorian coast.

Victoria Police then took over the koala's wellbeing and hand-fed her water and gum leaves until she felt better.

She has since been nicknamed Constable K. Bear and is doing very well, police say.

Wildlife Victoria's Amy Hidge says while it's still too early to say how many animals have died in the fire, people who come across an animal that "looks off" should call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535.

"We understand that at the moment looking for animals is a low priority, but at this stage we just need people to look out for bush-affected animals," she told AAP.

"Often, you can't see if the pads on their feet have been burnt or if they have smoke inhalation, so we're saying that if they look a bit off, they're probably bushfire affected."