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A large fire is burning at a church in inner Melbourne, leading to homes being evacuated and hundreds of other residents being warned to stay inside.

The fire is believed to have begun on Punt Road in South Yarra just before 6.25am and is not yet under control.

A number of firefighters are on scene as a ‘Watch and Act’ message has been issued for people living in the nearby areas of Albert Park, Cremorne, Melbourne, Prahran, Richmond, South Melbourne, South Yarra, Windsor.

Anyone within 1km radius of the fire is being warned that embers are being emitted from the fire.

A school is believed to be close to the scene of the fire.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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