Carrum Downs grass fire contained

22 January 2009

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Australia — Firefighters have contained a grass fire that threatened homes in the bayside suburb of Carrum Downs this morning.

The Country Fire Authority called in three aircraft to water-bomb the blaze because the crews from the 16 fire trucks at the scene were having trouble dousing the fire in scrubland.

The fire came within 50 metres of houses, just two days after another blaze threatened homes nearby.

This morning’s fire is believed to have been started by a tree falling into the area burned by Tuesday’s fire and catching alight.

CFA spokesman Graham Kirk praised the efforts of firefighters and aircraft crews.

Mr Kirk ruled out the possibility of arson at this stage, but urged the community to remain vigilant.

Ridley Close resident John Black, 42, was called home from work by his wife to fight the blaze.

When he arrived home, he saw flames seven metres high, “going pretty wild”.

Mr Black also praised the efforts of firefighters for saving properties in the area.

On Tuesday, the fire burnt through five hectares and threatened homes in Paddington Avenue.

The roof of one house caught fire and embers threatened other homes.

About 75 firefighters and 16 trucks were called to Tuesday’s fire, while two aircraft water-bombed the blaze from above.

CFA state duty officer Doug Broom said fire crews were also being used to mop up another fire that had broken out in nearby Langwarrin yesterday.

“It’s not causing us problems in terms of threatening to escape, however tying up nine fire trucks on a day like today when we’ve got a lot of risk to protect, it’s causing us problems from that point of view,” Mr Broom told Radio 3AW.

Meanwhile, authorities are investigating the cause of a fire in Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree, while firefighters remain on alert ahead of soaring temperatures and strong winds.

The CFA was called to a fire in the middle of the lake – which has no water and contains grass and weeds – at about 4.20am today.

CFA spokeswoman Amber Fletcher said fire crews had contained the blaze and houses near the lake were not under threat.

A total fire ban is in place in Victoria and firefighters are preparing for a potentially busy day with temperatures expected to reach into the 30s and strong winds expected.

Department of Sustainability and Environment fire management officer Les Vearing said a forecast of possible lightning and a hot, dry, windy day in central Victoria were ideal conditions for a major bushfire.

“Thursday will bring us the hot weather, strong winds and very dry conditions that are perfect for that big fire,” Mr Vearing said.

Tanker crews, water-bombing aircraft and bulldozers will be on standby, but residents are advised to take extra care with possible ignition sources like power tools and cigarette butts.

They’ve been told to avoid parking cars on dry grass, Mr Vearing said.

The temperature in Melbourne is expected to reach 34 degrees celsius on Thursday, while Mildura in the north is forecast to top the state with a high of 37.

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