No end in sight for firefighters until the Hunter receives rain

Since Saturday January 13, firefighters from Rural Fire Service (RFS), National Parks and Wildlife Service and Forestry Corporation  have responded to 72 fires burning out more than 6800 hectares. And with high temperatures and north westerly winds predicted today the RFS is calling on the community to remain vigilant to prevent further bushfires being ignited.

Although the majority of fires in our district have started as a result of lightning across the region, Incident Controller, Superintendent Kam Baker, is encouraging local residents to exercise caution following a number of accidental ignitions over the weekend.

POOR DECISION: RFS crew attends a fire at Lake St Clair  that is likely to have started from an unattended campfire. Photograph NSW RFS.

POOR DECISION: RFS crew attends a fire at Lake St Clair that is likely to have started from an unattended campfire. Photograph NSW RFS.

“Since Friday, volunteers from the NSW RFS responded to ten new fires, five of which could have been prevented.”

“Exhausted firefighters have done an amazing effort over the past 4 weeks responding to fires caused by lightning strikes. The last thing they need is to be fighting fires that could have easily been avoided.” 

“Fortunately, prompt responses from our dedicated volunteer firefighters prevented these fires from posing significant threat to the wider community.” 

Among the fires that caused concern were Friday’s fire on Darlington Road which is under investigation and a fire at Lake St Clair on Sunday which is believed to have been started by an unattended campfire. Sunday was a Total Fire Ban which further stressed the RFS volunteers who attended.

One small spark from a lawnmower, grinder or a welder can cause ignition in these drought conditions. 

With these fires now extinguished, Deputy Incident Controller Peta Norris, NPWS Manager for the Wollemi-Yengo Area, said the focus remains on fires burning in remote areas of the Wollemi National Park and Putty State Forest. 

“Following a significant effort from NPWS, NSW RFS and FCNSW firefighters we were able to move the TJs Fire, which has burnt out 4700 hectares within the Putty State Forest, to Patrol on Friday. Being the largest fire managed during this current period this is an amazing achievement.” 

“Unfortunately, Mother Nature continues to test our skills with new fires starting as a result of lightning across the weekend. Specialist Remote Area Firefighting Teams from the NSW RFS and NPWS, supported by firefighting aircraft, continue to work in very unforgiving terrain to contain these fires.” 

With no meaningful rain forecast in the immediate future, and temperatures to peak over 40 degrees later this week, Superintendent Baker stressed the importance of being prepared.

“Residents should ensure they have a Bush Fire Survival Plan in place and their properties are well prepared. Our volunteers are ready to do their part; the community needs to do theirs,” he said.