Po­lice to probe if grass fire de­lib­er­ate

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - DAVID KING AD­DI­TIONAL RE­PORT­ING: AAP

Au­thor­i­ties will in­ves­ti­gate whether a large grass fire that threat­ened homes and trig­gered evac­u­a­tions west of Mel­bourne was de­lib­er­ately lit.

Vic­to­rian Emer­gency Man­age­ment Com­mis­sioner An­drew Crisp con­firmed yes­ter­day that po­lice would in­ves­ti­gate the blaze near Lit­tle River af­ter re­ports it had three ig­ni­tion points.

More than 1200ha of grass burned yes­ter­day on a day of in­tense heat and high winds. The blaze was not con­tained last night. Sev­eral sheds had burned and au­thor­i­ties were check­ing whether homes had been lost.

The grass fire started at 11.43am yes­ter­day and more than 50 trucks were on the scene. Planes and he­li­copters worked to fight the fire.

Peo­ple in Mam­bourin and Manor were be­ing told to leave their homes.

Later the warn­ings were down­graded to watch and act.

The fire came as crews bat­tled high winds as they con­tin­ued to fight a bush­fire near Bal­larat.

That blaze de­stroyed a shed near Buniny­ong and scorched more than 40ha on Thurs­day, spark­ing an emer­gency warn­ing.

Se­nior me­te­o­rol­o­gist Pe­ter Ne­wham said winds were gust­ing up to 70km/h across the state, in­clud­ing around Buniny­ong.

Se­vere fire dan­ger is fore­cast for the Mallee, Wim­mera and North­ern Coun­try dis­tricts.

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