Little River grassfire being treated as suspicious by CFA firefighters and police
Authorities are investigating the cause of a suspicious grassfire which threatened homes at Melbourne’s south-western fringe on Friday in one of Victoria’s first major bushfire incidents this summer.
- Authorities believe there were three ignition points for the grassfire
- A local councillor said deliberately lit fires are the “worst thing” for a community
- A CFA firefighter said it was a “great win” that no lives or homes were lost
The blaze, which started at Little River between Werribee and Geelong just before midday, prompted authorities to issue evacuation warnings for nearby homes before about 50 fire trucks and seven aircraft brought the fire under control.
CFA incident controller Geoff McGill said the community was concerned by the likelihood that the fire — which burnt through 1,260 hectares of land — was deliberately lit.
A community meeting held after the fire was brought under control heard from authorities that they had found three ignition points for the grassfire.
“Victoria Police and CFA yesterday sent investigators out nice and early to make sure that we’ve secured the area, we’ve declared it a crime scene and the investigation is going on now,” Mr McGill said.
He said it was a “great win” that only a shed was lost in the fire, which he said should be considered as a warning of the bushfire season ahead.
“The early notification and calls for extra resources early in the stage of the fire was actually a really good outcome,” Mr McGill said.
Community shocked by ‘low’ act
John Caruana, who owns a 50-acre farm at Little River, said he was looking for feed for his sheep after the fire burnt through all of his land.
“I just can’t believe it’s deliberately lit … imagine [if] people got killed,” he said.
Wyndham City councillor Heather Marcus said the news that the grassfire was believed to have been deliberately lit was “the worst thing that you can ever hear”.
“To think that somebody is low enough to go out and deliberately light fires in three different locations, this is the worst thing that can happen to any community,” she said.
“To know that there is somebody in this city that would go and do that type of thing to put people at risk and to put livestock at risk, it’s the worst thing that can ever happen to any of us.”
Ms Marcus said the response from the Little River community highlighted a high degree of bushfire preparedness.
“People that don’t understand fires tend to panic a little bit, but I think people living in Little River — because they know that this is a very high fire-risk area — I think they’re trained to make sure that they are well aware of what they have to do when the fires do come.”
Affected property owners are now working to repair fences and locate fodder for livestock after paddocks were burnt.
The grassfire came one day after firefighters contained their first major blaze of the summer at Buninyong, south of Ballarat in western Victoria.