THE historic Kerang Hotel has been destroyed in an early-morning fire.
The alarm was raised around 6.15am on Saturday and the main section of the hotel at the corner of Wellington and Nolan Streets was well alight when the first fire crews arrived.
Fourteen fire crews from as far away as Bendigo responded.
The second-storey section has collapsed into the bistro and bar areas, but the adjoining reception area and motel units remain unscathed.
It is believed no-one was in the hotel at the time, but some motel patrons hastily left the area.
The main section of the hotel was built in 1928.
The Country Fire Authority has issued a warning of toxic smoke, moving in a northerly direction. Residents are asked to keep windows and doors closed.
A number of streets around the fire scene are closed to traffic, but the polling booth at the Memorial Hall remains open.