Police to probe if grass fire deliberate
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.