Grass fire has Melbourne residents packing

Feb. 18, 2013 at 4:08 PM

MELBOURNE, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Australian firefighters are working to control a grass fire that has burned 4,000 acres north of the city limits of Melbourne, officials said Monday.

While only one house has been destroyed and another damaged, a childcare center at a hospital in the area has been evacuated, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported

Heavy smoke from the fire prompted authorities to warn residents along Melbourne's northern edge to stay off the roads.

Separately, three bush fires in Victoria state's southern Grampians have linked up and are out of control, fire officials say.

Some 10,400 acres have been scorched and the blaze has sparked new fires more than half a mile away.

Some 300 firefighters were among emergency personnel spread out over the Victoria Valley trying to contain the blaze, said incident controller Russell Manning.

In the region's steep and rocky terrain, about 200 firefighters and water-bombing aircraft were working the fire, he said.

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