Originally written by ROXANNE PUNTON
WITH warm gusty conditions on Wednesday six fires blazed across the far south-west, with at least two of them believed to have been deliberately lit.
There were two fires within the Portland boundaries Ñ one of which was described as suspicious Ñ and four elsewhere in the district.
The two Portland fires occurred within minutes of each other, and have prompted a warning for those carrying out burning off to be aware of weather conditions and stay present at all times.
The Portland Fire Brigade was forced to call in personnel and vehicles from Narrawong, Gorae West, Cashmore and Heathmere, when the two fires broke out in south Portland within three minutes of each other.
Leading fire fighter George Ellis said the first fire was in Trangmar St, on private property, after a burn-off got out of control.
He said about two hectares were burnt,and the fire came close to shedding on the property but no houses were under threat.
Two tankers and six CFA members attended the fire, quickly bringing it under control. However, cleaning up after the fire took about three and half hours.
Mr Ellis said it was a case of someone carrying out a burn off and not being aware of the weather conditions.
The second fire broke out minutes later in Must St, in scrub near the Portland Secondary College.
The fire was controlled in about 15 minutes and about 1.6 hectares of scrub was burnt.
Lieutenant Roland Evans said the fire was within about 20 metres of buildings.
He said about 15 fire fighters attended the second fire, including back-up from the district fire brigades.
Police confirmed the second fire was being treated as suspicious and was being investigated.
Mr Ellis said people need to be careful and aware of weather conditions on the day they intend to carry out a burn-off. He also said people should be in attendance at all times when carrying out a burn-off.
* Police were also called to help with road blocks at several district fires on Wednesday.
Senior Constable Leo Finnegan said police were called to block roads after a burn-off at the Auspine Killara South plantation near Strathdownie got out of control.
Sen Const Finnegan said about 100 hectares were burnt with 20 hectares being pine plantations.
He said apart from the loss of pine plantations there was no loss of life or property.
He said a Department of Natural Resources and Environment burn-off in the Cobboboonee Forest also broke its control points Wednesday afternoon in the vicinity of Cobboboonee and Boundary Roads near Heywood.
As at 5pm Wednesday, Sen Const Finnegan said the fires were both under control.
Sen. Con. Finnegan also said fires were reported on private property in the Annya Forest and at Mt Eccles.
The Mount Eccles fire, which is also believed to be suspicious, burnt 77 hectares on Wednesday before being brought under control by 5pm.
Heywood, Dartmoor and Casterton fire units were some of those called to help control the blaze.