News & Media

Spate of house fires hits North East

Victoria’s recent cold snap has brought with it several house fires across the North East, with at least seven serious fires recorded in the past week in Wodonga, Wangaratta, Mansfield, Rutherglen and Merrigum.

Operations Manager Paul King said that of three house fires in Wodonga, two were preventable.

“In Wodonga West we’ve seen a resident who has unfortunately required hospitalisation after trying to use petrol to start a fire in a wood heater,” he said.

“At another home not far away, a fire was caused by a pot left on a stove, which led to fire spreading into the roof space.”

“Each year we see the same fire causes being over-represented in our statistics, which is frustrating and concerning for our firefighters, who see the effects on families first-hand.

“People get distracted or neglect to do things like get their heaters serviced – everyone is busy but there are no excuses for neglecting your safety and the safety of people around you.”

A heater is being investigated as a possible cause of a house fire on Tuesday in Merrigum, west of Shepparton. A working smoke alarm alerted a family of four to the fire just before 8pm on the evening of 2 June.

A serious house fire in Wangaratta, also on 2 June, could have been worse if not for the efforts of a neighbour who responded to the sound of a smoke alarm by alerting authorities.

Operations Officer Terry Heafield said the sound of the alarm saved precious minutes for crews responding to the blaze.

“This is proof of why all homes should have working smoke alarms,” he said. “The residents next door also deserve praise for their community spirit.”

Last year unattended cooking caused more than 600 fires in Victoria. Inappropriate heater use (such as leaving clothes on a heater) caused 237 fires, and poorly maintained chimneys caused 142 fires.

Victorian fire services recently launched the Safe Mistake Zone, a tongue-in-cheek campaign which encourages people to make a ‘safe mistake’ in place of a potentially deadly one.

Visit to find out more about how to prevent fires at home.

Last Updated: 05 June 2015