Several out-of-control bushfires that threatened communities in New South Wales and left firefighters battling to protect homes could have been deliberately lit, the Rural Fire Service says.
Fire crews moved from house to house in an effort to defend homes that caught fire in the town of Kurri Kurri, in the Hunter Valley, while water bombers assisted ground crews from above.
A mother and daughter had to be airlifted to safety after one of the fires got out of control near their property.
The Rural Fire Service (RFS) said authorities were treating the fires as “very suspicious” due to their number and their proximity.
“All starting around the same sort of time, obviously we are suspicious to that,” NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
“If anyone saw anything no matter how incidental it might be please call Crime Stoppers, report what you might have seen.
“You never know someone might just hold that part of the jigsaw puzzle that the police are looking for to pursue things further.”
Meantime a bushfire near Albany in Western Australia is burning back on itself and emergency services have donwgraded the warning level to watch and act.
Houses in in Lloyd Road, Marbelup Road and Rutherwood Road north of Lloyd Road are no longer under direct threat of fires.
The fire had started in Marbelup near the South Coast Highway and flames had reached over 10 metres in height overnight.
The blaze has burnt through over 350 hectares.
In Kurri Kurri, NSW, about 70 fire trucks and 300 firefighters were on the ground and surrounding areas battling the blazes, which have burnt out about 650 hectares.
The RFS confirmed that although some sheds and outbuildings had been damaged, no homes were destroyed in the fires.
Emergency warnings were earlier issued for two fires burning in the area but those were downgraded to watch and act and then advice status, as conditions eased.
Paul Best from the RFS warned residents to remain vigilant.
“We’ve had some big runs of fire today, there’s a lot of fire out in the landscape. People need to be continually monitoring that situation,” he said.
A local resident whose house was under threat said he had been prepared to leave.
“I saw it go up, so I had the car packed and ready to go,” he said.
“We were a little bit worried, we’ve never seen it this close before.”
Waterbombing aircraft have also been assisting firefighters on the ground, while about 60 locals have left the Kurri Kurri TAFE campus where they were sheltering, after conditions began to ease.
Earlier, Fire and Rescue NSW said six strike teams had been deployed to the Hunter from Sydney and the Central Coast.
Hot weather, strong winds made conditions challenging
The RFS said high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds had fuelled the fires during the day.
“Clearly when you get a number of fires within reasonable distance of one another starting and spreading so easily under those hot dry conditions it doesn’t take too long to start joining up and becoming a real problem, Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.
“Not just for the response effort of firefighters but also the community that are in the path of these fires.”
Further south near Canberra, an emergency warning was also downgraded for a fire burning out of control at Mulligan Flats at Sutton.
In the state’s Central West an out-of-control fire at Parkes was downgraded to advice status.
The RFS said more than 600 firefighters were battling at least 38 bush and grass fires across NSW this afternoon.
At least 27 of the fires are uncontained.
M15 Hunter Expressway CLOSED at Heddon Greta due to this fire
Posted by Hunter TV Newcastle on 2017年1月17日