Cops smoke out illegal fire-lighter

A WOMAN faces charges after smoke  from household furnishings set alight in a backyard billowed across the local police station.

The incident, one of two recently in the Portland district, prompted a police warning to seek permission to burn off or risk fines of $15,000.

Heywood police Sergeant Jason von Tunk said a Heywood woman was expected to be charged on summons after Country Fire Authority officers were called to a blaze at Murray Street on Saturday afternoon.

He said a large pile of rubbish, including two mattresses and a lounge suite, was set on fire at a residential property about 4pm.

“Plumes of black smoke were wafting across the police station,” he said.

“The woman was interviewed by police in relation to lighting a fire in the open air during a period of fire danger under section 37 of the Country Fire Authority Act.”

Sergeant von Tunk said there was a similar fire lit in Portland last week.

“We are reminding people they have to get a permit to burn as the whole area is still very dry and fires can get away very quickly,” he said.

“The maximum fine is in excess of $15,000 or imprisonment for 12 months. It’s a very serious offence,” he said.

Meanwhile, smoke from a toilet ceiling fan caused the temporary evacuation of patrons from Port Fairy’s Caledonian Hotel on Saturday night.

Fire brigade officers received a call at 7.28pm to attend the hotel, known as The Stump, in Bank Street.

Officers used a thermal imaging camera to confirm the fire was out when they arrived.

The Stump owner Gary Umbers said the smoke caused only a minor disruption to the evening’s entertainment.

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