Authorities have revealed the cause of a major bushfire that killed livestock and burned thousands of hectares near the South Australia-Victoria border.
The CFA confirmed on Sunday the large fire, which is not yet under control, was sparked by a car fire on New Year’s Eve about 1.30pm.
Fire crews are continuing to work on building containment lines to stop further spread of the grass and scrub fire near the local communities of Poolaijelo and Langkoop.
An estimated 7330 hectares had been burnt by Sunday afternoon.
“Fortunately, we have seen no losses to homes at this stage, however, there has sadly been livestock and wildlife losses throughout the area,” said incident controller Mark Gunning.
The fire has torn through Meereek State Forest, which is famous for its red tail cockatoos.
Casterton-Apsley Rd between Dergholm-Edenhope Rd and Fergusons Rd, as well as other local roads, have been closed.
“Trees affected by fire provide a significant risk to public safety due to falling branches and therefore the need to have the roads closed until crews assess and remove those trees that are at risk,” Mr Gunning said.
The incident controller said weather conditions over the next few days will see fire crews reinforce established containment lines.
“The fire is still very active in the area, and we ask the community to stay informed via the VicEmergency App which will provide you with up-to-date information about the fire and support your decision making in respect to you and your families actions,” he said.
Thousands of sheep died in the fire, according to the CFA.
The CFA said the blaze was a stark reminder that many communities should prepare for the bushfire season.
“Where people are living in the dry parts of Victoria, bushfires are a reality,” Mr Gunning said on Saturday.
“This is why people need a fire plan … had the area been more densely populated, we might have seen more significant damage.”
The fire risk will increase in many dry parts of the state over the coming month due to increased fuel loads, Mr Gunning added.
On Saturday afternoon Victorian residents in the far west, near the South Australian border, were told to leave their homes if they were not prepared to stay and fight the blaze.
Authorities warned the bushfire could become dangerous and unpredictable amid hot temperatures.
A Watch and Act warning was issued for Langkoop, Poolaijelo and Powers Creek as the grassfire at Poolaijelo burns out of control.
“Don’t wait — if you are not prepared to stay, leaving now is the safest option,” Victorian emergency authorities warned on Saturday morning.
“Conditions may change and get worse very quickly. Emergency services may not be able to help you if you decide to stay.”
South Australian fire crews are assisting the Country Fire Authority to help contain the blaze.
Authorities have urged residents travelling from South Australia into Victoria to check online for current warnings and road closures before departing.
The grassfire at Wrattonbully crossed the South Australian border into Victoria on Friday afternoon.
The fire has been controlled in South Australia but is still actively burning in Victoria.