Hillside: Galli Court grassfire fuels fringe fears

A large grassfire has renewed resident calls for paddocks in the Hillside Estate to be cleared.

MFB and CFA crews attended the rapidly spreading blaze in Galli Court on October 22, when about two hectares of land were burnt in warm and windy conditions.  

“There wasn’t a blade of grass left where the fire went through,” CFA District 14 operations officer Trevor Roberts said.

“But for the great work of [fire] crews . . . it could have spread further.”

Mr Roberts said the incident was an early warning of a likely busy fire season.

“It’s a timely reminder for residents in high-risk areas on the urban fringe to formulate a plan before summer hits in earnest,” he said.

Galli Court resident Frank Nucara, whose property backs on to paddocks, said his neighbour lost his entire fence in the grassfire.

“It went up quickly, like matchsticks,” Mr Nucara said.

“There are about two or three holes in my fence, but it was saved because I trimmed about a metre around it last week.”

Mr Nucara said he and his wife had complained several times to Melton council about long grass in paddocks.

He said the discovery of a dead brown snake had only made the plea more urgent.

“I couldn’t believe it. They [snakes] obviously get around in the long grass and eventually they’ll make their way into houses,” he said.

“We have a young child. It’s incredibly dangerous. This long grass is making us feel like sitting ducks.”

Another Galli Court resident, Daphne Grima, said she had called the council about the state of the paddocks for the past two years.

“Next to nothing’s been done,” she said. “They trim a small strip of grass that backs the fences, but that’s it.

“This year, the dead grass was, literally, the same height as our back fence.”

Ms Grima said on one hot and windy summer day, the breeze carried dead grass and hay into the house while it was under construction.

“Imagine if that grass had been on fire,” she said. “It would’ve sent the house up in flames.”

Melton council’s acting operations manager, Russell Beer, said the council had received “a few” phone calls from residents in recent months about long grass in the area.

“The land is privately owned,” he said.

“Council has written to property owners advising them to ensure fire prevention activities are in place. Fire prevention work had commenced on the land where the fire was.”

He said the council would start issuing fire prevention notices soon to enforce work.

“Council does consider community concern when undertaking fire prevention activities,” he said.