Residents fight fires … in Aberdare, near Cessnock. Deep heat … a grass fire in Penrith.
HUNDREDS of firefighters battled the most atrocious conditions imaginable on Friday to contain about a dozen out-of-control blazes from the state’s far south to the Hunter Valley, desperately hoping a late cool change would bring relief.
By late on Friday, fires near Cessnock, Coonabarabran, Young and around Bega were still causing extreme danger for residents and firefighters, as authorities confirmed two homes had been lost in the Bega area.
The Commissioner of the Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons, said dry winds and hotter than expected temperatures played havoc with firefighters. ”This has made for very difficult conditions and there are a lot of very active fires; there has not been the cloud cover we expected,” he said.
As a cool change began to sweep up the coast on Friday afternoon, the biggest areas of concern at about 6pm included a fast-moving grass fire initially reported to be near Young, but which was racing towards the township of Boorowa.
Known as the Watershed Stud fire, in the local government area of Harden, the fire had burnt 1500 hectares by 5pm as emergency warning messages were issued for the area. The RFS said more than 50 fire trucks are on scene with about 180 firefighters.
”Ground crews are being assisted by waterbombing aircraft. The Air Crane is being sent to the area,” a RFS spokesman said.
”Properties in the Moppity area are under threat. The fire is burning near Harden Road and Campbellfields Road. There are a number of local road closures including Moppity Road.”
In Cessnock, an out of control fire in Aberdare broke containment lines and was due to affect the Ellalong and Kearsley areas.
At one stage the RFS Deputy Commissioner, Rob Rogers, tweeted about the plight of those on the front line: ”Really terrible conditions for firefighters. Imagine being in this heat next to a blast furnace.”
Also of concern was an out of control bushfire in the Millingandi area, in the Bega Valley, about five kilometres west of Merimbula, on the state’s far south coast.
The fire, which was about 150 hectares in size, had burnt 35 hectares, crossed the Princes Highway and was affecting local properties, sparking warnings for residents to head north to Bega or south to Merimbula.
There were also emergency warnings in place for the Aberdare fire near Cessnock.
Flare-ups in and around Sydney caused major headaches as temperatures soared in the west and south-west suburbs of Penrith and Campbelltown.
An emergency warning was issued mid-afternoon for a grass fire out of control near the University of Western Sydney in the Campbelltown area, but it was quickly downgraded as it was brought under control.
During what was one of its busiest days ever, the RFS used 200 trucks and 60 aircraft to try and halt the march of destruction which has already scorched 100,000 hectares of NSW land.
A fire in Cessnock is also out of control and has broken containment lines. ”The fire started yesterday [Thursday] and has reignited under extreme fire conditions this afternoon,” a spokesman said.
A bushfire in the Deans Gap area of Morton National Park, near Sussex Inlet, covering 9114 hectares, remains uncontained and the RFS said it may yet jump their containment lines.
Fires in the Kybeyan Range area 20 kilometres east of Cooma, in the Bega Valley, south-east of Mudgee, are also continuing to burn out of control.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.