It turned night into day.
That’s how Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley described the red glow that dominated the sky on Saturday night as fires raged across the south-west.
“Normally a fire will be in the daylight and we always say daylight becomes darkness because of the fire,” he said. “In this one we saw the fire in the night and it was the biggest red glow in the sky that lit it up and brought daylight to night.”
Mr Lapsley toured the fire-affected areas across the region on Tuesday.
He started his tour at Penshurst, before moving on to Terang and Cobden.
Mr Lapsley said while there had been no deaths or serious injuries, there had been some minor injuries and a huge loss of livestock.
He said 26 houses and more than 50 farm sheds were destroyed.
“It was a wind event that knocked over trees and power lines as well as a fire event,” Mr Lapsley said.
“It was one of the most significant fires that the south-west has ever experienced.”
He praised the work of all emergency service workers, and said they had gone above and beyond.
He said none of them expected the intensity or ferocity of the fires they encountered.
Mr Lapsley also said the community had risen to the challenge, providing for others in their hour of need.
“The community has done exceptionally well in being able to manage themselves and get information and make decisions,” he said.
Mr Lapsley said the impact on farmers was immense.
He said it had affected dairy, beef and sheep farmers, and it would be traumatic for farmers to have to destroy and bury their livestock.
Mr Lapsley said the fires were still being put out but it was moving into the recovery phase.
“We will work closely with municipalities and the departments to make sure that is as smooth as it can possibly be,” he said.
On Tuesday he met with chief executive officers and mayors from Corangamite, Moyne and Southern Grampians shires.
The Terang fire has been declared contained, joining the other three main fires - Hawkesdale, Garvoc and Camperdown - in that safer category.