A Cobram fruit packing facility has been seriously damaged by fire, with a coolroom storage shed and several vehicles destroyed.
Country Fire Authority brigades responded to the intense fire at Joe, Cherie and Chris Macheda’s property on Cobram South Rd, just before 4am on Saturday.
Up to 14 vehicles, including the Shepparton-based heli-attack aerial pumper, attended the blaze.
During the fire, gas cylinders on forklifts and some fuel stored in the shed caused minor explosions as pressure vessels heated up.
Joe Macheda said every day that he could not pack was damaging.
‘‘We are not packing. We are losing every day,’’ he said.
‘‘My brother is helping me out. When he is not packing I’m going there.’’
There was significant damage, with two coolrooms containing many bins of fruit inside a 20m x 40m shed demolished along with a couple of nearby utility vehicles, a forklift and machinery.
A nearby house also suffered some damage from the radiant heat of the flames.
CFA District 22 operations officer Pete Dedman said the attention of firefighters was focused on saving the packing shed.
‘‘When firefighters arrived at the scene, they determined the fire had a high probability of affecting the nearby packing shed and focused their attention on saving that structure, which they were able to do,’’ Mr Dedman said.
‘‘It wasn’t a great start to a day of total fire ban and there was a big focus on looking after the welfare of firefighters attending the scene as the intense heat saps a lot of energy.’’
There were about 60 firefighters at the incident with a rotating roster to reduce the chances of heat stress and help them recover for potential call-outs later in the day.
Police attended the scene and closed Cobram South Rd so firefighters could continue to quickly cart water from a nearby water source to combat the blaze.
The CFA scaled down its response about 9am, with crews by then only working on several hotspots.
A fire investigation has been completed and it is not deemed suspicious, but because of the intensity of the damage they were not able to find a conclusive cause.
However, Mr Macheda said investigators believed it started at the power box.