High wind and soaring temperatures fanned a horrific day for Geelong’s firefighters yesterday.
Two firefighters were hospitalised after battling to control the worst of several blazes to break out in the city as temperatures reached 37 degrees.
Country Fire Authority Region 7 operations officer Geoffrey Gray said a fire broke out at a sawlog depot on Toll Geelong Port land in Langdon Street, North Geelong, about 2.30pm yesterday.
Firefighters endured “atrocious” conditions as they fought six-metre flames on a 70-metre long, 50-metre wide pile of logs that was completely consumed by fire.
“They were extremely difficult conditions – incredible heat, dust smoke – and unfortunately we’ve had two officers taken to hospital for treatment for heat exhaustion,” Mr Gray.
Flames came to within a few metres of a large factory building next to the log pile.
Neighbouring factories, including International Malting, suffered production delays after Powercor cut electricity for several hours.
Mr Gray said every tanker from Corio, Geelong, Geelong West and Belmont attended the blaze.
CFA crews were also run off their feet attending several blazes along the Melbourne Road median strip where poa grass kept catching fire, he said.
By 4pm firefighters had scrambled to more than 150 fires across the state as temperatures soared close to 40 degrees and wind gusts reached 65 kilometres an hour at Geelong.
“The weather bureau has indicated it’s the driest October day on record – we’ve got temperatures in the high 30s and fires popping up everywhere,” Geelong CFA chief Bob Barry said.
“It just drives home that we’re coming into the worst fire season ever and I can’t reiterate strongly enough the need for people to prepare themselves for this summer because their life really does depend on it.”
Mr Barry had “no doubt” the region faced its worst fire season on record.