PICTURES: Hot wind fans 'fire in the sky'

BURNING gum leaves landed in the middle of Narrawong on Tuesday night as firefighters were confronted with wild winds and unseasonal heat.

The mercury was hovering around the low 30s when the Mount Clay fire began to rage out of control mid-afternoon, assisted by a strong westerly which belted across the district. 

A large smoke plume could be seen as far east as Killarney and as far north as Dunkeld by late afternoon, when the first major warnings were issued.

Temperatures remained high following sunset with the mercury hovering around 25C for most of the early evening.

But Narrawong residents say conditions were least favourable about midnight into early yesterday morning as the wind switched from the west to the north, stretching the fire-front and pushing it south towards the township. Firefighter had to reassess their tactics as the fire consumed hectares of dense bushland less than five kilometres from the coast.

Narrawong resident Graeme Burch was in Portland on Tuesday evening and could clearly see the blaze from 10 kilometres away.

“It was quite strange looking at it from the coast because (the fire) was elevated — it almost looked as if it was in the sky,” Mr Burch said.  

“Everything was pitch black except for this orange-red glow above Narrawong.”

Rain started to fall at Narrawong about 3am yesterday, reducing the speed of the fire.

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