LIGHTNING strikes and changing winds made for challenging conditions on the weekend, sparking six fires in the Hawkesbury.
As temperatures climbed into the 40s in many areas on Friday, fires started across the district, at Marsden Park, Bilpin, two at Colo Heights and two at St Albans.
Firefighters responded quickly to the bushfire which erupted just after 8.30pm on Friday, January 18 at Marsden Park.
Residents reported smelling a lot of smoke in the air and seeing fire trucks and police patrol cars flying past shortly after the fire sparked. It is believed to have started as a result of powerlines sparking together in high winds on Grange Avenue.
Those at the scene said the fire raced quickly across grassland at the rear of properties as winds pushed the fire in multiple directions. Luckily no houses were lost. Crews remained on the scene for several hours until the blaze was fully contained.
While dry winds and hot temperatures put pressure on firefighters, crews managed to quickly contain the fires at Bilpin, Colo Heights and St Albans, however two remained active until the early hours of Saturday morning.
“On top of supporting crews at Coonabarabran and Shoalhaven, crews also had to work through the night to control the other fires burning about 13km east of Putty Road at Colo Heights and St Albans, which have now been downgraded to a patrol status,” Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service Superintendent Karen Hodges said.
Friday’s unprecedented extreme weather and bushfire conditions across NSW led Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) to experience one of its busiest days in history, resulting in an appeal to the public to only call 000 if it was a real emergency.
‘‘We urge members of the public to only call 000 if it is a genuine emergency to ensure our resources are not unnecessarily tied up with non-urgent calls,’’ FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said.
Meanwhile, Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service personnel continue to provide support to firefighters in the Coonabarabran and Shoalhaven areas, taking on positions such as air radio operators, strike team co-ordinators, logistic officers, airbase operators and Remote Area Firefighting Teams (RAFT) as they continue to battle blazes ripping through hectares of land.
Those wishing to support the victims of the Coonabarabran fires can donate to the Warrumbungle Shire Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal.
Donations can be made online via the details below, at any CBA branch, or at the Shire’s Coonabarabran and Coolah offices.
Account Name: Warrumbungle Shire Council Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal
BSB: 062-524 Account: 10133579
Bank: Commonwealth Bank