On 15 January 2014, a bushfire which was sparked by a lightning strike started in the Grampians National Park. It was one of 68 fires burning across Victoria during this time.
The fire coincided with a heatwave across Victoria with temperatures reaching over 40 C in the Grampians region from 15 – 20 January. The fire eventually burnt 52,000 hectares including bushland and farms and was declared contained on 21 January 2014. Many residents from Dadswell’s Gap, Wartook, Brimpean, St Helen’s Plain, Roses Gap Pomonal, Bellfield, Lake Fyans, Lake Lonsdale, Heatherlie and Ledcourt were affected by the fires. Halls Gap was threatened by the fire front and ember attack and most of the town evacuated. Relief centres were set up in Horsham, Stawell and Ararat for the hundreds of people who were evacuated from their homes. Farmers lost large numbers of sheep that were either killed by the fire or later culled. At least 7000 sheep in total were lost.
A 12 km wide pyro cumulus cloud column of smoke and fire was created by the fire, generating its own weather pattern including lightning and thunder. This cloud gathered burning embers into the sky, which then scattered for many kilometres beyond the fire front, potentially starting new fires.
Once the fire was contained, emergency services began assisting people to return to their homes and cleaning up the tourist attractions in time for visitors to be able to come to the Grampians National Park over the Australia Day long weekend.
Financial assistance for people in the 12 local government areas affected by the bushfires was provided under the jointly funded Commonwealth-Victorian Natural Disaster Relief Recovery Arrangements. This included making available concessional loans for small businesses and primary producers. Local councils were also provided with funds for clean-up activities and to repair essential public assets.