UPDATE: BUSINESSES are closing in the South West after a fire damaged a phone exchange.
CFA crews battled for 45 minutes to bring a fire in the Warrnambool Telstra exchange under control early this morning.
The outage is affecting mobiles, landlines, internet connections and EFTPOS services from Camperdown to Portland and Warrnambool to Hamilton. About 60,000 customers are affected by the outage.
Some businesses reliant on the internet and phone communications were closing across the region due to the outage.
Banks in the region are offering limited services.
Retail businesses are having to manually swipe credit cards creating delays for customers.
Telstra spokesman James Howe told Weekly Times Now this morning it was waiting to get the OK to enter the Koroit St building before sending in engineers to assess the damage.
"The important thing is for people to know mobiles can be used to call 000 in an emergency but people can't call 000 from a landline," he said.
If people don't have a mobile they are being asked to go to the nearest police station or hospital in an emergency.
"We've got a mobile exchange on wheels which will help get some of the exchange services up and running and cells on wheels being deployed (from Melbourne)."
Temporary phone lines are available for Warrnambool Police Station on 0481 389 783, Hamilton Police Station 0481 387 374 and Portland 0457 540 006.
The State Emergency Service 132 500 number is currently not available in the impacted areas. Residents should only call triple zero if urgent assistance is required.
A CFA spokesman said when crews arrived at the Koroit St building about 4.30am this morning it was a "pretty big fire with lots of smoke".
He said a truck with a ladder platform was brought from Ballarat to help with the fire fight.
About half the exchange was damaged in the fire.
Fire investigators will attend the scene today.
Local councils will be making contact with people on the vulnerable persons register who they believe may be affected.
Residents are urged to check on their neighbours and elderly residents to ensure their welfare.
Residents should be aware that some V-Line passenger and freight services are experiencing some delays.