Firefighters battle 60ha grass blaze

MORE than 150 Ballarat region firefighters ended 2012 fighting a 60 hectare grass fire at Yandoit yesterday. 

Country Fire Authority crews were called to the incident in the Yandoit-McPhersons Lane area north of Daylesford around 5pm, and used seven aircraft to fight the blaze near the townships of Franklinford, Werona, Yandoit and Yandoit Hills. 

A CFA spokesperson said the cause of the fire was yet to be determined by investigators. 

Two houses were saved from flames, with the damage limited to two sheds and at least one vehicle, which were destroyed. 

Crews from Creswick, Hepburn, Daylesford and Glenlyon were among those on scene, with bulldozers to remain on site overnight as crews monitored conditions. 

Another fire south of Ballarat prompted Department of Sustainability and Environment officers to remind campers to properly extinguish camp fires yesterday. 

Just 0.2 hectares were burnt in the Enfield State Forest when a smouldering camp fire ignited and turned into a bushfire.

DSE and CFA both attended, declaring the fire safe after two hours.

DSE agency commander Kendra Dean said DSE and Parks Victoria staff had found 15 unattended smouldering camp fires on Victorian public land in recent days.

“One of the biggest bushfire risks we see over the summer period is irresponsible use of campfires,” she said.

“With hot windy weather predicted over the next week it is important that people take care when lighting fires in the open. These fires have the potential to cause significant damage to houses, infrastructure and crops. 

Ms Dean said campfires were cool to touch if extinguished properly.

“Use water not soil to put it out even if you are just going for a swim or a short walk,” she said.

“Always check fire restrictions before lighting a campfire and always use a purpose-built fireplace where provided.”

Weatherzone meteorologist Rob Sharpe said hot weather ahead would increase the risk of more fires.

“We’re looking at very hot temperatures in Ballarat with Thursday jumping into the mid 30s and Friday forecast for 37 degrees,” he said.

“Friday is going to be a particularly dangerous day due to very hot temperatures as well as a very dry air mass, low humidity and north to north-westerly winds.”

Mr Sharpe said the hot, dry weather would likely continue into next week with more temperatures in the mid 30s expected.

thomas.mcilroy@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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