Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Car may have sparked blaze

A grassfire that burnt part of Toolamba yesterday could have been caused by an abandoned car, according to firefighters.

FIONA BROOM November 22, 2012 4:20am

An abandoned car is suspected as being the starting point of a grassfire at Toolamba yesterday.

An abandoned car could have been the cause of a fire that burnt through grassland at Toolamba yesterday, firefighters say.

Investigators are working to discover exactly what caused the blaze, but firefighters said it appeared a car found on the banks of the Goulburn River might have been the starting point.

Country Fire Authority district operations officer Peter Brereton said it was not clear how long the car had been there or whether it was stolen.

He said police would also be investigating.

Warm, gusty winds and temperatures hovering about 30°C caused the fire to spread rapidly and it was declared out of control.

But the riverbanks helped crews contain the fire and the all clear was given about 2.45pm.

About 9ha of bush and scrub was burnt.

Mr Brereton said recent grassfires, including another at Bearii yesterday afternoon, were just a taste of what the region could expect during the fire danger period, which begins on December 5.

He said grass was drying rapidly and there had been no rain for the best part of a month.

‘‘The hot and dry winds are sucking out the residual moisture from the ground,’’ he said.

‘‘People need to be very, very careful with any activities in rural areas — the countryside is starting to burn.’’

He said the previous three summers had been wet, but it did not appear this summer would be, while grass growth in winter had created heavy fuel loads.

Mr Brereton said people needed to be ‘‘incredibly careful’’ undertaking any fire prevention such as slashing or burning off.

He said windy days had to be ruled out for people considering fuel reduction activities.

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