Flames tear into vacant rural house

TWO fires have caused extensive damage to North East properties, with a home gutted and several cars destroyed.

Firefighters were called to a house on Selzers Lane in Ovens about 8.15pm on Monday.

The fibro cement sheet home, which investigators believe could be an old tobacco picker’s residence, was completely alight when they arrived.

The house was vacant and was gutted, with little more than a chimney and parts of the frame surviving.

Nearby resident Greg Clifford saw the fire at the front of the house and said it had quickly spread and engulfed the building.

“It was a scary feeling,” he said. 

"The wind was getting up and flames were going as high as the gum trees. 

"The flames hit a room and then there was a big boom, a big explosion. 

“There would have been three or four explosions.”

The property had been vacant for about three months, Mr Clifford said, and the owner had had issues with previous tenants. 

He is concerned the home won't be cleaned up and asbestos will be left behind. 

“Is the house going to be sitting there with asbestos flowing through the air?” he asked. 

Firefighters are investigating the cause, but believe an oil heater that was being used to dry paint may have started the fire. 

CFA operations officer Graeme Neil said there was little the firefighters from four stations in the region could do to save the home. 

About 25 firefighters attended the scene and stayed for several hours. 

“The house was fully involved (with flames) when they arrived,” he said. 

“All they could do was try to make the area safe.”

The smoke caused respiratory issues for some people in the area. 

Firefighters also responded to a shed fire on Younghusband Street in Corryong about 10.30pm on Monday. 

The shed housed four or five old cars and was badly damaged. 

Investigators attended both properties on Tuesday and examined the scenes to determine causes.