The owner of a Cobram fruit-packing facility is said to be devastated after fire destroyed a cool room storage shed and several vehicles on Saturday.
Country Fire Authority brigades responded to the intense fire on Cobram South Rd just before 4am with up to 14 vehicles, including the Shepparton-based heliattack aerial pumper.
Gas cylinders on forklifts and some fuel stored in the shed caused minor explosions as pressure vessels heated up.
CFA District 22 operations officer Pete Dedman said the owner, an orchardist, was distraught about the loss, which occurred in the lead-up to the main fruit-picking period.
Two cool rooms containing many bins of fruit, inside a 20mx40m shed, were demolished, along with a couple of nearby utes, a forklift and machinery.
A nearby house also suffered heat damage due to the radiant heat of the flames.
‘‘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 a 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.
The fire is not deemed suspicious, but because of the intensity of the damage investigators were unable to determine its cause.