Firefighters suspect two new fires that havebroken out in New South Wales today were deliberately lit. The first blaze, on the far south coast, was reported inthe Mogo State Forest, south-west of Batemans Bay, shortly before 1:00pm AEDT. Personnel from the Rural Fire Service and State Forests have joined the fight using abulldozer to cut fire breaks, as well as a water-bombing aircraft.The fire has been contained to about 20 hectares of forest and no private property isthreatened at this stage. The second blaze believed to have been deliberately lit is on the state’s central coast,in the Brisbane Water National Park. Rural Fire Service spokesman John Winter says crews have contained around 75 percent of the blaze. “We’re fairly confident of being able to limit its spread,” he said. “It’s about 70 hectares in size but the ground crews up there have done a very, verygood job.” The service says with no lightning strikes or other fires in the area they are almostcertain it was started deliberately. The fire is still some kilometres from both a children’s sporting camp in the park andhomes at Patonga. Further south, no new outbreaks have been reported from the big fire burning in theDeua National Park, inland of Moruya today. South coast Firefighters on the New South Wales south coast continue to battle a blaze burning ina national park west of Nowra. A huge fire burning in the Morton National Park is currently within containmentlines. The 450 firefighters in the Shoalhaven are concentrating their efforts on preventingthe fire from spreading further west. In the southern highlands, clean-up operations and water-bombing are continuingaround the Nattai fire, as it burns south along the Wollondilly River. Firefighters are patrolling for spot fires around Oakdale and along the Barkers RidgeRoad but the threat to property is minimal. Further east, water-bombing of hotspots in the Appin fire west of Lake Cataract hasnow extinguished most of the flames. The danger of unexploded bombs from a former bombing range is hindering effortsby firefighters to put containment lines around the Morton Park blaze. Shoalhaven Deputy Incident Controller Mal Newing says crews are having troubleworking around the bombing range. “The unexploded ordinates danger is certainly there with the heat of the fire passingover that area and we are very wary about having any units within close proximityto the range and making sure that our troops stay fairly clear,” he said. Some of the victims and firefighters from the New South Wales bushfires will beoffered free holidays on the Gold Coast. The city’s tourism operators have donated accommodation, theme park passes,tours and games of golf for use between March and June this year. The Gold Coast Tourism Bureau, which launched the appeal today, says the aim is tocreate holidays of at least three night’s duration including accommodation, attraction and meals.
The Federal Government will pay the estimated $800,000 cost of bringing twohelitankers from the US to fight the New South Wales bushfires. But the Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, has ruled out buying the specialisedwater-bombing helitankers. Mr Anderson made the comment while touring fire-affected areas on the state’s southcoast today. “I think that we probably need to do further research on whether they’reautomatically the best way to go and the best deployment of resources but those arethe sorts of things that we ought to look at,” he said. Mr Anderson has also revealed that his Government wants to coordinate a nationalstrategy on cost-effective options for improving Australia’s firefighting capability.”Potentially it might be done through my department but we’ll work cooperativelywith the states,” he said. “This is not some takeover bid nor do we want to accept responsibility for things thatare not ours. “But where valuable resources have to be looked at there are sensible sharingarrangements that can be out in place, it would make sense to look at the options forthat.”