Lightning sparks Victorian blazes

Lightning strikes have started one fire and authorities fear they could ignite more as firefighters battle wild weather and several blazes across Victoria.

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Fire crews are at the scene at Centre Track, 7km south-west of Mallacoota near the NSW border, where lightning started a fire that had spread to around half a hectare by Thursday afternoon.

A fire at Stuart Creek, 10km north-east of Bruthen in Gippsland, has been contained but crews are having difficulty reaching another blaze in remote and rugged terrain at nearby Mountain Ash Creek, 15km north-west of Glencairn in the state\’s east.

Bad weather has forced the reconnaissance aircraft to return to base.

Fire near NSW border

Two separate blazes burning close to each other in the South-East Forests National Park at Yambulla, also near the NSW border, have remained stable and firefighters are working in steep, rugged terrain to complete control lines around them.

A one-hectare fire at Morris Peak, 11km north-west of Bullumwaal, should be under control by Thursday night, the

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) says.

A DSE spokeswoman said a band of lightning was crossing the Gippsland region on Thursday afternoon and could ignite more fires.

Country Fire Authority (CFA) crews have contained a fire that had threatened houses in the bayside suburb of Seaford, in Melbourne\’s south, earlier on Thursday.

Crews were dealing with smaller grass fires on Thursday afternoon but they did not pose any risk, a CFA spokesman said.

It is likely the total fire ban will be lifted on Friday, he said.

Wild weather causing closures

Meanwhile, high winds and storms have caused widespread damage and road closures throughout the state.

The State Emergency Service has responded to more than 200 incidents so far on Thursday, including a house in Violet Town whose roof was blown off in the wind.

Fallen trees have damaged a home in nearby Jamieson in the state\’s north, while a large number of roads across Victoria are blocked due to debris.

Hot winds fanned dust storms across Melbourne on Thursday afternoon, although a cool change was expected later in the day.

Severe thunderstorms are predicted by the weather bureau in the north-east of the state, particularly in Wodonga, Wangaratta, Sale and Bairnsdale.

The storms are likely to produce damaging winds, large hailstones, very heavy rainfall and flash flooding and people are being warned by emergency services to take care and stay indoors wherever possible.

Gale warnings are in place for coastal areas.