PEOPLE fleeing severe fire danger on their bush blocks have a new place to go as a Castlemaine pub opens its doors.
The Bridge Hotel has announced it will provide a place for people to shelter on severe fire days if they've left their properties.
Co-owner Pat Furze said there were many people around Castlemaine living on bush blocks and planning to leave early as part of their fire plan.
Mr Furze made the initial offer on Facebook a few days ago, when he realised friends had been coming into town sitting in cafes all day.
It was fine for young single people with laptops to spend a day in a cafe, but difficult for families, or those on lower incomes, he said.
But the Bridge Hotel is happy for those taking shelter to bring food, drink, pets and children.
The response has been overwhelming, with many people saying they will take up the offer.
"We've got a large building that's air conditioned, that people can come with their pets and with their drinks, and with their food and just have a space during the day they can relax in," Mr Furze said.
"The risk is getting worse year to year, and that the community is going to have to be more proactive in trying to protect itself.
"What we see this year is likely to be the norm, not the aberration. It just means communities are going to think about services for people who live on rural properties."
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