SEVERE and unpredictable wind gusts helped fan two threatening grass fires which started in Thoona and Bundalong South yesterday.
At 10.30am yesterday the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning for the North East, with damaging north to north-westerly winds forecast to average 60 to 70 kilometres an hour, with peak gusts predicted of 90 to 100 kilometres an hour in elevated areas.
The fire in Thoona was reported at 11am and travelled at speed in a south easterly direction toward Taminick leaving a thick smoke haze over the region.
It was a nervous wait for residents in communities in and around Glenrowan, Killawarra and Wangaratta South, with Vic Emergency warning the fire was heading in their direction.
A CFA District 23 spokesperson said at midday, 20 tankers were deployed to fight the 364 hectare fire along with two aircraft which were managing to keep the fire front from advancing.