Sydney’s water cleared of fire threat

Sydney’s water cleared of fire threat

30 October 2006

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Australia — A bushfire burning out of control in the Blue Mountains is notthreatening Sydney’s drinking water supply, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) says.

The fire, which has burnt almost 5,000 hectares of remote bushland west ofSydney, has come within five kilometres of Lake Burragorang, part of theWarragamba Dam Catchment, RFS Commissioner Phil Koperberg said.

“The fire is not a threat to the water supply,” Mr Koperberg toldAAP.

“We’re trying to create a buffer zone between the burnt country and thedam to prevent ash running into the water supply but even if it does reach thewater it will not be a problem because there is so much water to dilute it.

“The concern is for the filtration system and that it’s able to cope.”

It has been widely reported that the water supply was threatened by fire, butMr Koperberg said it had never been under threat.

He said a more severe fire had burnt through the same area in 1997 and posedno threat to drinking water.

“We’d prefer to keep the fire from the water’s edge but, if we can’t, itwon’t make much difference,” he said.

“Yesterday, we aerially ignited the ridge within a 10,000 hectareperimeter to try and take some of the heat out of the main running fires.”

The blaze started from a lightning strike last Wednesday and is expected toburn out of control over the next few days.

RFS spokeswoman Rebel Talbert said 12 water-bombing aircraft would be used tobomb low-lying land because the fire had spilt over an escarpment.

“At this stage, we’ve put in about 40 firefighters,” Ms Talbertsaid.

“It is growing but, in saying that, it’s not going in any particulardirection. It’s spreading slowly on most fronts because we’re getting intoreally localised weather.”

Firefighting crews were carrying out aerial backburning although noproperties were directly under threat, Ms Talbert said.


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