'Heartbreaking' scenes as fire-hit communities rebuild

William TonAAP
A nearby mayor has spoken of broken hearts and dreams from bushfire destruction in Pomonal. (Justin McManus/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconA nearby mayor has spoken of broken hearts and dreams from bushfire destruction in Pomonal. (Justin McManus/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

It's a long road to recovery for Victorian towns scorched by bushfires as residents return to their communities to begin rebuilding their lives.

Premier Jacinta Allan confirmed 44 homes have been lost at Pomonal at the edge of the Grampians National Park in Victoria's west.

"That's pretty much half the town that has lost their homes as a result of that fire," Ms Allan said on Friday.

"There is going to be a lot of rebuilding."

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


At least three businesses and 23 outbuildings were also razed in Pomonal.

Another home was lost at Dadswells Bridge, to the north of the national park, in a separate bushfire.

Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Rob Haswell said it was "heartbreaking" talking to people at the forefront of the disaster.

Pomonal is part of the bordering Ararat Rural City Council but the town itself is closer to Mr Haswell's town of Stawell where about 200 people had registered at the emergency relief centre.

"Many have lost houses and there's a lot of broken hearts and broken dreams out there," Mr Haswell told AAP.

Locals returning to inspect the losses were met with dangerous residual electricity still running through wires despite powerlines going down.

Carcasses of dead animals were strewn everywhere and water systems polluted from fire retardant used in the aerial combat to battle the flames.

Emergency relief centres in Stawell and Ararat have since closed as people move on to find other temporary accommodation, Mr Haswell said.

"The real work now has to start which is cleaning up, making safe, getting people back into their houses where they can, and also helping to rebuild the community."

The mayor acknowledged the long road ahead for many in these communities.

"I was in Canberra 20 years ago when they had the bushfires there and you're looking at three years plus," he said.

But in times of struggle, Mr Haswell says the community tends to come together and look after each other.

"There's a sense of a really tight sense of community and I would hope most of the people will resettle and get their lives back together (in Pomonal) because they've got friends, family, kids and schools," he said.

Almost all fires sparked in Victoria on Tuesday are believed to have been started by lightning strikes as severe storms lashed the state.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails