Residents near raging fires west of Melbourne have been told it’s not safe to leave their homes and to take shelter immediately.
A warning has been issued by the Country Fire Authority said people should stay within their homes as it is ‘not safe for you to leave’.
Dramatic video footage shows massive flames and explosions emerging from a substation in Terang, while a grassfire burns out of control in Boorcan, 199km west of Melbourne.
Nearby resident Brett Gasper told the Herald Sun the scene of the fire caused a ‘red sky and smell of smoke’ which was ‘daunting’.
A CFA spokesperson said people had been evacuated from nearby homes.
Lightning was reportedly seen in the area but the cause of the fires is not yet known.
Firefighters have been unable to stop the Terang fire which has travelled south-east across the Princes Highway.
Meanwhile a grassfire in Wallan in northern Melbourne was burning out of control on Saturday night and is raging along the Hume Freeway.
Earlier on Saturday, two grass fires were started near the Morack Golf Course, in the eastern suburbs, and Mill Park, in Melbourne’s north, on Saturday afternoon as total fire bans covered much of the state.
Meanwhile, a third grass fire at Gembrook, southeast of Melbourne, damaged two cottages before being bought under control.
All up, 31 fires broke out across the state on Saturday amid strong winds reaching 70km/h and temperatures forecast to reach 30 but with expectations it could reach 39C in the west.
The Bureau of Meteorology warned residents they were in for an uncomfortably warm night ahead of a cool change expected on Sunday.
‘We forecast a minimum for example of 21C for Melbourne but really it’s not really going to fall below 25C for any great length of time,’ senior forecaster Chris Godfred told reporters on Saturday afternoon.
North-to-northwesterly winds were expected to intensify into Sunday morning, with peak gusts possibly reaching up to 120km/h over alpine areas.
A strong cold front is then expected to pass through the south west of the state, near Portland, around 6am Sunday.
It will pass through Melbourne around 10am and finally through the south east of the state between 1pm and 2pm.
Mr Godfred said: ‘By the time we get to sunset Sunday we are confident the severe weather warning would be cancelled.’
‘We’ll see fires move around in the night with levels of intensity and fire behaviour that’ll be quite erratic,’ Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said.
When asked whether any of the fires were suspicious EM Commissioner Lapsley said that there was no cause yet but all would be investigated, particularly ones such as the fire in Mill Park.
‘We haven’t seen lightening [in that part of the state] so we would assume it would be the human hand,’ he said.
With the belief that some of the fires may have been deliberately lit the Commissioner also warned people to look out for ‘suspicious’ people and to report them or anyone ignoring the fire ban to police.
Total fire bans have been issued for the state’s Central and South West districts on Sunday with while other weather districts still have severe fire warnings.
The SES have also responded to around 50 calls for assistance, at the time of the press conference, with the majority about fallen trees.
The gusts are expected to pass through Melbourne by mid-morning and reach the state’s far east by early afternoon before temperatures drop to around 20C or lower.
People can keep up with the emergency warnings and fires here.