The Driffield fire

The Driffield fire appears to have started as more than one fire. At approximately 1.37 pm, reports were made of several fires south-west of Morwell along the Strzelecki Highway at Driffield.42 GDF Suez mine personnel observed three areas of smoke south of the Hazelwood mine at around 2 pm.43

These fires quickly merged and moved in a north-easterly direction toward the mine.44 Bureau of Meteorology records show that at about the time when the Driffield fire was reported, the wind change had taken place and was a strong south-westerly wind.45 The Driffield fire burnt up to the Morwell River diversion, which runs along the mine’s western and southern boundaries. It did not cross directly into the mine.46 The Driffield fire was contained at the Morwell River diversion by early evening.47

The cause of the Driffield fire is also the subject of a Victoria Police investigation.48 Victoria Police consider that the fire may have been the result of arson.49 Detective Inspector Michael Roberts, Officer in Charge of the Arson and Explosives Squad, confirmed that police have excluded lightning strike, power lines and other electricity assets as possible causes of the Driffield fire.50