Originally written by AMI HUMPAGE
COUNTRY Fire Authority investigators and Portland police detectives are investigating a suspicious house fire that completely destroyed an abandoned $100,000 home in Otway St on Tuesday night.
Portland CFA officer in charge and CFA Region 4 operations officer Captain Gary Harker said the fire was reported at 6.39pm on Tuesday and Portland CFA responded with 18 firefighters, a pumper, a tanker, a pumper/tanker and a multipurpose vehicle. Two trucks also came from Cashmore with an extra seven firefighters.
Capt Harker said on arrival the house was well alight with flames coming out of the side of the house, setting a neighbouring fence alight.
He said a crew of firefighters attacked the back of the home (where the fire originated) wearing breathing apparatus due to the abundance of smoke, and a separate crew went into the house with a full line hose and a thermal imaging camera to stop the fire spreading through the ceiling and roof cavity.
Capt Harker said the thermal imaging camera was able to show where any hot spots or embers were, which meant the spread of the fire could be contained quickly.
He said it took about 20 minutes for the fire to be controlled and another hour-and-a-half was spent overhauling the house to make sure the fire would not reignite.
Capt Harker said the fire started at the rear of the house, with winds pushing it further into the vacant home.
He said the fire was being treated as suspicious, with CFA Fire Inspectors and detectives from the Portland police Criminal Investigation Unit continuing to investigate the blaze.
Although firefighters were able to stop the fire burning two front runs of the house, Capt Harker said it was totally inhabitable, would need to be demolished and would cost at least $100,000 to replace.
He said all firefighters in attendance did very well to protect the neighbouring properties and were very quick and professional in their response.
Portland police Criminal Investigation Unit’s Detective Senior Constable Ian Dickinson confirmed the fire was suspicious.
He has called on the community to come forward with any information they have regarding the fire.
Senior Detective Dickinson said there were no plans to involve the Victoria Police Arson Squad in the investigation, and the matter would be dealt with locally.
If you were in the Otway St area at the time of the fire and notices something suspicious or have any information that could assist the police contact Senior Detective Dickinson on 5523 1999.