More than 500 firefighters battle blazes

More than 500 firefighters have worked through the night to battle blazes in Gippsland and in Victoria’s western region.
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– More than 500 firefighters battling blazes

– Two men questioned but released

– Fires threaten communities

Firefighters have contained a large fire in Branxholme, in the western district, but are still battling to save dozens of houses in the Delburn area, south of Morwell in the Latrobe Valley

Two men were questioned at Morwell police station last night and released without charge over the deliberately lit fires.

“They have been released and our inquiries into the fires are continuing,” police spokesman Senior Constable Wayne Wilson said.

Country Fire Authority spokesman Darren Grevis-James said more than 300 firefighters were battling the blaze that had burnt about 1000 hectares.

“The fire was very active overnight, similar to what it was during the day,” he said.

“They’re just checking this morning to see whether there’s been any loss of property.”

Mr Grevis-James said while there were no reported property losses so far, there were a number of isolated holiday homes or shacks in the area that could have fallen victim to the fires, which began about 4pm Wednesday.

He said the terrain was a “very steep, difficult combination of native forest and pine forest.”

About 200 firefighters are still battling the fire at Branxholme, which has so far burnt through about 603 hectares of land, mainly open farming country.

A number of crops have been lost in the blaze.

Conditions in the region are predicted to worsen today, with temperatures into the mid-40s.

Mr Grevis-James said winds were expected to swing south-west today, with firefighters on their guard for a change in fire direction.

A total fire ban has been declared for the entire state today.

Residents of Gippsland are enacting their fire plans as another day extreme temperatures exacerbates the fire threat. video