A 15-year-old girl has been charged with intentionally starting a fire which led to the evacuation of dozens of residents on a street in Melbourne.
More than 300 fire fighters battled to contain the blaze in Carrum Downs, in the southeastern suburb of the Victorian capital, on Saturday [6 January]. Crews used 50 trucks and three helicopters to fight the flames.
The fire started at Blue Wren Rise, a wooded area in the suburb, shortly before 3pm, the day after authorities had put into place a ban on fires as temperatures soared to over 40C.
The blaze spread quickly fanned by winds, prompting the evacuation of 30 residents, although nobody was hurt. Fire crews said it took around six hours to bring the blaze under control.
Victoria Police said in a statement the teenager has been bailed to appear before a children's court at a later date.
Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley defended the decision not to issue an emergency warning for the fire.
"Even though there may be structures alight, or there may be fences alight or outbuildings that's something the incident controller will determine about what is the immediate threat versus the immediate threat to life and injury," Lapsley told broadcaster ABC.
"Obviously that's a dynamic environment. The emergency warning is where there is imminent danger to your life.
But Lapsley warned people still continued to use the wrong types of barbecues despite a total fire ban.
He said: "The message has to be not to use inappropriate barbecues. Solid fuel barbecues on a total fire ban day are illegal. It needs to be a properly constructed barbecues, gas or electric."