The historic Kerang Hotel has been destroyed by fire. Photo: Ken Jenkins/ The Northern Times
Fire has destroyed the historic Kerang Hotel, in north-west Victoria, with toxic smoke from the blaze forcing residents to stay indoors.
"It's sad for the community that such a historic landmark has been destroyed," said Ken Jenkins, managing editor of the Northern Times newspaper, who lives five blocks from the hotel and took these photographs.
"It was pretty hot," he said, describing windows exploding and "big pall of black smoke".
The blaze started at 6.20am and when Country Fire Authority crews arrived they found the double-storey building well alight.
It took until 7.55am to bring the fire under control, according to a CFA spokeswoman.
Twelve fire trucks were used, involving 50 firefighters.
Mr Jenkins said the building dated back to 1928 and had lost its historic upstairs accommodation, bar and bistro.
More recent extensions had survived with water and smoke damage, he said.
The CFA initially stated that about half of the Wellington Street premises was destroyed.
However, a CFA spokesman has now stated that the hotel is "stuffed...completely destroyed".
Building inspectors were due to visit shortly to examine the prospects for demolition, he said.
A NSW firefighter suffered an injury to his leg and was taken to hospital by ambulance.
"It is believed no-one was in the hotel at the time, but some motel patrons hastily left the area," according to the local Northern Times newspaper.
The main section of the hotel was built in 1928, said the paper.
The CFA issued an alert to residents to stay indoors and close doors and windows because of toxic smoke produced by the fire.
That alert has now been withdrawn.
Mr Jenkins said the hotel was the second in recent years to be destroyed by fire.