FIREFIGHTERS are battling a blaze that’s engulfed the historic Ivanhoe RSL building.
Eyewitnesses have tweeted vision of flames erupting from the roof of the building on Studley Rd.
Traffic has been blocked on Studley Rd, near the Upper Heidelberg Rd intersection, with other road closures in the area.
David Taylor was on his way to drop his son off at a nearby gym when he noticed flames coming from the building at 6.40am.
“As we got closer fire trucks arrived and the police were blocking off the road,” he said.
“So we did a U-turn and I took some video of the fire looking up from the bottom of the hill.”
He said the fire was at its worst in the roof and didn’t look to be affecting the bottom level of the building.
“It wasn’t a vibrant RSL in terms of the newer ones that have pokies, but it was a traditional RSL with a lot of traditional memorabilia inside.”
Metropolitan Fire Brigade Commander David Woods said it took nearly an hour to bring the blaze under control.
He said despite their best efforts, the two-storey brick building had been severely damaged and it was too early to say what caused the fire.
A community warning has been issued in the area of Ivanhoe and Eaglemont because of intense smoke and drivers have been asked to avoid the area.
“A neighbouring property has been evacuated due to them being elderly and disabled and placed in the care of ambulance for observation,” Cdr Woods said.
The RSL was set to host refreshments on Anzac Day after a commemorative mass planned at the nearby St Bernadette’s Church at 8am, followed by a commemorative service at the Soldiers Memorial at 2.30pm.
The Victorian Heritage Database describes Clairvue is one of the grandest of the early Medieval Domestic Revival houses in Heidelberg.
The Ivanhoe RSL website describes its building as a “treasure trove of historical and military memorabilia”.
“Letters such as the John Curtin letter pose a fascinating insight into the operations and process of diplomacy that underscored every fateful decision made by Australian military commanders during World War Two,” the website says.