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Worst winds in five years cause chaos and damage across Melbourne

By Tony Nicholls, staff, Wednesday October 2, 2013 - 07:34 EST
ABC image
A tree lies across the fence of a house after strong winds swept across Melbourne on September 30, 2013. - ABC

Wild weather has caused chaos and widespread damage across Melbourne and the State Emergency Service (SES) is bracing for a heavy workload this morning.

The SES received more than 1,000 calls for help after strong north-westerly winds of more than 140 kilometres per hour ripped through Melbourne's metropolitan area last night, bringing trees crashing down on roads and houses.

Tens of thousands of properties across the state have been left without electricity.

In Fitzroy North, a power pole came down, dragging a large branch of a gum tree with it.

It brought powerlines down on the footpath with the powerlines draped across the forecourt of a home and right down the street.

The SES has been out in force in the area with chainsaws to clean up damage and make it as safe as they can for residents and passers-by.

But they cannot do anymore work until the power company comes in to secure the fallen powerlines.

Several houses have lost their roofs in areas like Kew, Broadmeadows Altona, Point Cook, Wyndham and Frankston.

Fawkner Beacon, on Port Philip Bay, recorded the highest gust last night of 142 kph, but the predominant steady wind was much lower than that.

Of the more than 1,000 calls for help the SES received by midnight, 936 were from Melbourne's metropolitan area.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Tony Bannister says the winds have been the worst in Victoria for more than five years.

"It's looking like it's probably the worst event Victoria-wide since April 2008 when we had an ex-tropical cyclone, Pancho, in terms of the area covered and the intensity of the gusts," he said.

He says there is more to come.

"A cold front is moving up towards Melbourne now," he said.

"Between 7 and 8 o'clock, there could still be some gusts of up to 100 kph."

Winds spark fires across state

The wild weather conditions throughout Victoria have also meant a busy night for fire crews.

Fierce winds sparked a fire at Bellarine tree services at Moolap, near Geelong.

The blaze began in a pile of mulch with up to 20 fire trucks taking three hours to control the flames.

At Cape Shanck, fire damaged the roof of the White Cottage in the Light House precinct, which is run as a bed and breakfast.

A smoke alarm alerted the guests who escaped without injury, and fire crews managed to contain the damage to the limestone cottage, which was built in 1859.

And at Doveton in Melbourne's south-east, a blaze destroyed a house in Robin Close.

The CFA says the winds made it tough to control and crews concentrated their efforts on preventing the flames from spreading to nearby homes.


© ABC 2013

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