Police Investigating Cause Of Out Control Cheltenham Blaze

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Police Investigating Cause Of Out Control Cheltenham Blaze

A large grassfire that roared through a park in suburban Melbourne and burned close to homes is being treated as suspicious.

The fast-moving blaze broke out at Cheltenham Park on Wednesday and spread quickly, charring graves at a cemetery and coming close to a primary school.

It also reached the back fences of nearby homes before it was contained by nearly 100 firefighters and four water-bombing aircraft.

After initial reports that a camp fire might have sparked the blaze, Metropolitan Fire Brigade investigators on Thursday determined the fire was suspicious and police will get involved.

There were chaotic scenes on Wednesday afternoon as residents evacuated 40 homes, while heavy smoke billowed into the sky.

One local woman fled with her three cats tied to lengths of rope while others remained at home equipped with garden hoses.

The blaze was brought under control around 5.30 pm and residents returned to homes about two hours later.

The Cheltenham fire burned in a native conservation area and a council representative said local wildlife would have sought shelter.

"Residents living around the park may find native wildlife in their gardens," Bayside City Council Mayor Laurence Evans said.

"Injured animals can be taken to your local vet or reported to a wildlife shelter."

She asked people to avoid the burned area and keep dogs on leashes when near by.

Another fire broke out in a park at nearby Sandringham on Wednesday and it is also being treated as suspicious.

The blaze started in Tjilatjirrin Reserve, less than 3km from the Cheltenham fire, and spread to nearby homes, razing one and damaging another.

It took firefighters an hour to bring the fire under control and police on Thursday called for public information regarding the blaze.