A SUSPICIOUS grass fire that spread through a Maiden Gully property yesterday afternoon is being investigated by police.
The fire started at 2.15pm at a property in Schumakers Lane and spread across one hectare before being extinguished.
Plumes of smoke reached neighbouring properties but CFA and DSE crews were able to contain the fire to the paddock.
Firefighters declared the fire under control within 20 minutes, and police were called to investigate.
Constable Andrew Weatherell said it was unclear how the fire was sparked.
“It’s being treated as a suspicious at the moment,” he said. “There’s no devices or evidence to point to how the fire may have started.”
No one was home at the property where the fire started and Constable Weatherell said police were still searching for people who may have been present at the time.
“If there’s any witnesses or anyone who was driving past and saw something suspicious about 2pm, they should contact police,” he said.
A CFA spokesman said any fines could be particularly severe given the start of the Fire Danger Period, which officially began on Monday.
“We would remind people that the danger period is in force, and to be aware of the risk to properties, not to mention lives,” he said.
“We also ask that people think about the conditions before they burn off.”
Today has been declared a total fire-ban day.
Fires in the open air are legally restricted while the danger period is declared and a written permit is required to burn off grass, undergrowth, weeds or other vegetation.
Lighting a fire in the open without a permit can bring a penalty of up to $17,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.
All burn-offs should be registered with the VicFire Burn Off Line on 1800 668 511.