Five homes confirmed lost in Dereel fire

Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA) has confirmed at least five homes were lost in yesterday's fire at Dereel, south of Ballarat.

The blaze was contained overnight after burning through 1,300 hectares.

Fire crews are continuing to assess the extent of the damage and police are investigating the cause of the fire.

Road closures are still in place and evacuated residents have not been able to return to their homes.

have been released from hospital after being treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine toured the area his morning and attended a public meeting.

He says he will be acting on people's concerns in the region about mobile phone coverage during the fire.

"I'm fortunate there's a COAG meeting with the Prime Minister on the 19th of April and these are issues I can take up directly with the Prime Minister, because I believe our telephone service through Telstra and others have a moral obligation to provide universal coverage," he said.

Residents told the meeting they cannot receive emergency text messages because there is no mobile reception and internet access is minimal.

Golden Plains Shire Mayor Jenny Blake says it is a very serious issue.

"Particularly in a situation of fire, particularly for those people who are out there on the fire-ground and particularly also farmers in paddocks trying to work out where the fire is when they're moving stock," she said.

"Having mobile phone contact is absolutely important, critical in fact to people's safety and we don't have sufficient mobile service at the moment." Gippsland questions Meanwhile, light rain has fallen on a fire that has burnt through about 600 hectares of bush, farmland and pine plantations in Gippsland.

The fire escaped from a Department of Sustainability of Environment (DSE) fuel reduction burn, started at Hallston near Mirboo North on Monday.

DSE crews started another burn nearby on Tuesday morning, despite forecasts for a top temperature of 35 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

The fire escaped control lines and burnt farmland.

Residents there are now asking why a controlled burn was started with hot weather forecast.

The DSE has been under pressure to complete as much controlled burning as possible this autumn, for fuel reduction, regeneration and asset protection.

The fire spread in yesterday's hot windy conditions then changed direction onto pasture and plantations after the south-westerly change last night.

Incident controller Damien O'Connor says fire crews from Hancock Plantations have joined the firefighting effort.

"It has come out of the forest into the private property [and] it has had an impact on some plantations and onto some private land," he said.

"There's been no structural losses or anything like that but there has been a bit of fence loss." He says the rain started falling earlier today and has helped.

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