Teenager charged with starting bushfire in Melbourne

A teenager has been charged with starting a bushfire that threatened homes in Melbourne's south-east.

Fire is seen in a bush reserve off Danley Drive at Carrum Downs, Melbourne, Saturday, January 6, 2018.

Fire is seen in a bush reserve off Danley Drive at Carrum Downs, Melbourne, Saturday, January 6, 2018. Source: AAP

A teenage girl charged with starting a bushfire in Melbourne's south-east faces an angry backlash from the community over what police have described as reckless behaviour.

It took more than 300 firefighters to contain the blaze in Carrum Downs, which badly damaged a family home on Darnley Drive and put the entire street at risk on Saturday.

A 15-year-old Carrum Downs girl has been charged with intentionally starting a bushfire.

She has been bailed to appear before a children's court at a later date.

"It was an intentional and deliberately lit fire," assistant commissioner Deb Abbott told reporters on Sunday.

Ms Abbott said investigators were able to identify the suspected firebug with the help of concerned members of the public.

"Fortunately, and in most cases of fire arson, it is the community that provides us the breaks in these types of cases," she said.

"The community has an extraordinarily low tolerance for this behaviour."

Police declined to comment on how the fire began other than to say it started among flora and fauna at Blue Wren Rise just before 3pm on Saturday, a day authorities had declared a total fire ban as temperatures across the state soared above 40C.

"It's always reckless and ill thought-out behaviour," Ms Abbott said.

The fire soon spread to surrounding dense scrubland and prompted the evacuation of 30 homes on Darnley Drive and Augusta Court.

One family home was severely damaged when embers got into an evaporative air conditioning unit.

No one was injured but the family cannot return home.

The blaze also damaged sheds, fences and a motorhome.

Fire crews on Sunday remained in the area to continue patrols and black out areas after spending the night extinguishing hot spots.

Authorities have advised residents to expect some smoke.

An emergency warning for a fire in Benalla in northern Victoria was downgraded to a watch and act message after firefighters managed to stop a grassfire in Winton from spreading towards Wattle Creek on Sunday afternoon.

Residents are advised to stay close to shelter and monitor conditions while the 100-hectare under-control grassfire continues to burn.

Published 7 January 2018 at 4:52pm, updated 7 January 2018 at 5:11pm