Residents of the Craigieburn area inspect a fire which has threatened their suburb. Photo: Angela Wylie
Flames from the Mickleham fire came within five metres of brand-new homes at Craigieburn as Melbourne’s northern edge was again threatened by a fast-moving and dangerous fire.
Shortly before 7pm, large flames could be seen racing through the paddocks between Wallan and Romsey as fierce winds swept the fire to the north.
At least a dozen fire trucks rushed towards the blaze from Stennings Lane, under a still-hot sky.
Residents run from a grass fire which gets close to homes in Craigieburn. Photo: David Crosling
Residents of Grevillea Street, in a new estate on the western edge of the suburb, described flames tens of metres tall as the fire sped across open paddocks towards homes.
Shehara Fernando said it was the scariest moment of her life as she watched the fire advance towards the new townhouse into which she and her husband moved just two months ago.
‘‘I’m really shocked, I’m shaken, I’m really scared,’’ she told Fairfax Media.
Craigieburn residents after the fire threatened their homes. Photo: Angela Wylie
‘‘You know how it happens in the movies, it was so big. The flames were so big and scary – orange and red.’’ Mrs Fernando said strong winds blew embers into the house and new tiles inside were blackened.
Residents of the new estate were helping one another as the fire advanced, and warning others of the danger, she said.
The fire seemed to make a final rush towards the houses before 1pm.
‘‘It took less than 30 seconds for it to come, and I thought that was it – we would not have a house, it was so scary,’’ she said.
Mrs Fernando evacuated to a friend’s house, and returned home later in the afternoon.
Another Craigieburn resident, Dylan Bertola, who lives in a different part of the fast-growing suburb, said the fire was about four streets from his house.
Mr Bertola received an emergency warning on his mobile phone as well as on his home phone.
He said he was ‘‘really surprised’’ by how close the fire came to houses in the heavily populated suburb.
Mr Bertola, who works at the Craigieburn McDonald’s, said management evacuated the fast-food restaurant as a safety precaution early in the afternoon.
His colleague, Samantha Milford, said about 20 customers were in the store at the time.
By 4pm on Sunday the vast open paddocks besides the new estate bordered by Grevillea Street were blackened and smoky.
Locals who visited the edge of the fire were shocked that it could come so close to suburban life.
While people gathered to talk and to see how close the fire had come, residents on the edge of the estate continued damping down garden beds and smouldering grass with garden hoses.
Twenty-three-year-old Diego Fadini said it was a frightening afternoon, as fierce wind pushed the fire towards suburbia. ‘‘It’s very daunting to see that it’s so close to houses and schools,’’ he said.