Extra fire crews

Australia:  Extra fire crews called in as bushfires continue to rage

4 January 2002

Source and Copyright: ABC News Online


As the New South Wales bushfire crisis enters its 13th day, extra fire crews are being called in to assist exhausted teams on fire fronts around the state. 
One hundred firefighters are coming from Tasmania to supplement firefightingefforts, while Firefighters from the NSW Fire Brigade are being recalled from days off and annual leave at a rate of 80 personnel a day. As the weather outlook continues to show no mercy, fire crews from South Australia, Queensland and Victoria, who were due to leave, have decided to extend their tour of duty. The fires have already caused more damage than the 1994 fires caused in three weeks, consuming over 170 homes and 500,000 hectares of bushland. 
More than 80 bushfires are still burning out of control in New South Wales, and the main danger areas continue to be Woodford in the Blue Mountains, Sussex Inlet, Wollongong and Eurobodalla.
Blue Mountains
Firefighters in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, say they are confident there is no immediate threat to homes in several towns south of the Great Western Highway.The fire is still burning within metres of some homes in Hazelbrook and Woodford,and is moving further along the mountain range. The Deputy Incident Controller for the Blue Mountains, Geoff Luscombe, says calmer conditions will allow about 500 firefighters to back-burn around homes through to Wentworth Falls to the west.The Ambulance Service has relocated 35 elderly patients from the Bodington Aged Care Facility in Wentworth Falls to the Nepean Private Hospital as a precaution.Mr Luscombe says it is unlikely there will be any forced evacuations overnight. “We’ve got our backburning operation. It’s continuing. It’s now moving through Woodford and into Hazelbrook and as long as we can stay ahead of the fire things should be okay, “he said. 
South Coast
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has moved to quell panic on the state’s south coast, where there is an evacuation plan in place.The township of Bendalong is on standby for evacuation with a fire earlier thought to be under control again encroaching on the township.Spokesman Mark Sullivan says there is not necessarily a threat to properties when an evacuation plan is enacted.Mr Sullivan says there is extensive back-burning near the town of Bendalong, and the smoke in the area is creating a lot of concern.
“We want to reassure residents that the bulldozer break around Bendalong is quitesubstantial,” he said. “There may be some smoke into the early morning, but fire crews have it well in hand so we want to reassure those residents.”South-west of Sydney, the residents of Oakdale near Camden remain on high alert due to the approaching bushfire from the west.Milder conditions have enabled crews to continue back-burning operations and completely control the fires active in Sydney’s north.However, the respite is expected to be short lived with searing temperatures and dry westerly winds expected on Sunday and Monday and no rain in sight. 
Hawkesbury
More than 600 people at Colo Heights are still not allowed to return to their homes after being evacuated from the area on Wednesday.Meanwhile, a 54-year-old male Rural Fire Service volunteer had to be airlifted out of the Oberon fire when he received second degree burns to his right foot.New South Wales Assistant Fire Commissioner Greg Allan says they are conscious oftiredness setting in for firefighting crews and have put in place plans to combat this.”We reached an agreement today with the Rural Fire Service, they’re having troublewith fatigue, with volunteers and people who need to get back to work, so we’ll be providing up to 80 personnel from Sunday, each day to help staff Rural Fire Service tankers, and that just exemplifies the high level of cooperation that we have,” he said.
Illawarra
The threat to property on the Illawarra escarpment north of Wollongong has easedwith a calming of winds and back-burning will continue overnight at Bulli Tops. Yesterday, Panorama House at Bulli Tops was evacuatedand there were concerns about a nearby service station. The F6 Freeway remains closed to south-bound traffic at Helensburgh.
The fire, heading towards Bulli Tops from the Appin fire, is being held at a local river.To the east, north-west of Picton, Oakdale residents remain on alert, but despite spot fires, containment lines have not been breached. Meanwhile, in the Southern Highlands at Colovale, back-burning and fire bombing is containing the southern flank of the Nattai fire.
Far south coast
On the state’s far south coast, firefighters are planning a large expansion of their containment lines for a fire burning in remote country in the Deua National Park west of Moruya. The decision, which will include work on private and leasehold country south of Braidwood, comes after the bushfire escaped its control lines to the south and north-west.
The Eurobodalla Fire Control Centre is warning the local communities to expect largeamounts of smoke over the next few days due to the back-burning activities. 
Park closures
The ongoing forecast for hot weather has forced the National Parks and Wildlife Service to close most National Parks in the metropolitan area over the weekend. The service says the parks are closed to preserve public safety and to prevent further bushfires.All parks in the Sydney metropolitan area, the Illawarra, the Blue Mountains and the central coast have been closed, except for the Sydney Harbour National Park, the Botany Bay National Park at La Perouse, coastal picnic and camping areas in Bouddi National Park, the Basin camping area and parts of Munmorah State Recreation Area.
All walking tracks and remote camping areas are closed in all parks.


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