FIREFIGHTERS standing guard over a grassfire just outside Portland hope to have the blaze completely controlled by this morning.
Around 30 people fled their homes from the fire front on Tuesday after it came within six kilometres of the city.
Heywood incident control centre controller Peter Novotny said crews still had concerns for strong winds predicted for the remainder of the week.
A 50-strong CFA and DSE firefighting team remained on alert following overnight winds of 60 kilometres an hour.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Mr Novotny said yesterday.
“There were 33 homes that were in the area of the fire ... if the fire had crossed over Dougherties Road there would have been a lot more houses (in danger).”
By Tuesday afternoon a helicopter hovered over the burnt-out landscape using thermal imaging to pick up hotspots and weaknesses in the containment lines.
The blaze has so far destroyed 127 hectares of grassland and forest.
Portland policeman Detective Leading Senior Constable Perry Lattin said detectives had not pinpointed the cause of the fire.
“We’re still investigating. We have the arson squad down and a CFA investigator,” he said. “We’ve established a point of origin but as to what caused the spark we’re still having a look.”
The detective asked anyone who had seen suspicious activity before the fire or with information to contact Portland police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Despite the evacuations, many homeowners stayed on to fight the blaze, which burnt into gardens and sheds.
Ron Atwell stayed behind with the help of family and friends to fend off the flames that came within metres of his home.
“It came at us from two sides,” Mr Atwell said.
Wind changes through the day caused headaches, with spot fires coming close to the backdoor of the house.
“I’ve had that land for 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Mr Atwell said.
A good supply of pumps and hoses formed his decision to stay on, rather than evacuate. “It never came into my head,” he said.
Reflecting on the carnage that was avoided, he thanked those who offered their time to help protect his home.
“It’s been overwhelming the help that we got. I even had a truck offered to me to move my cattle free of charge,” he said.
Looking out over 40 burnt acres (16 hectares) yesterday, he said he would need to fix kilometres of incinerated fences. “It’s a lunar landscape,” he said.
Those seeking more information for ongoing bushfires can contact the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667.