Australia–– Dozens of residents fled their homes last night after a bushfire jumped containment lines and burnt within metres of their properties in the Newcastle suburb of Edgeworth.
At one point flames almost reached the back fence of houses in Lyons Close. Most of the streets residents packed essential items and rushed to leave the area about 10.30pm yesterday.
Others, however, chose to stay and use hoses and buckets in an attempt to protect their properties.
Dean Morgan was still on his roof at 1am on Friday morning hosing down as the fire continued to burn.
“1am and I’m on my roof hosing it down watching this. Streets been full of fire trucks since 9pm, on my way back out to keep watch,” he posted on his Facebook page.
After seeing the fire come menacingly close to his Edgeworth property yesterday afternoon he said: “doubt I’ll be sleeping tonight”.
The fire, which burnt about 200 hectares of bushland between Teralba, Argenton, Barnsley and Edgeworth, jumped containment lines as a strong southerly breeze took hold around 9.15pm.
Residents were initially told to activate their bushfire survival plans, as firefighters kept the blaze away from nearby homes. At 10.30pm, the wind picked up, and the flames once again headed for the suburb.
A Rural Fire Service spokeswoman said the fire broke out about midday and its cause was “under investigation”. More than 80 firefighters were called in to battle the blaze.
Meanwhile, a teenage boy has been charged with lighting a grass fire in Sydney’s west yesterday.
The 15 year-old boy was spotted by a member of the public crouching down in grassland at Vineyard, in Sydney’s west, and “acting suspiciously”, according to a police statement.
The witness then noticed a small fire and tried to detain the boy, who tried to flee the scene on his bicycle. The witness held onto the bike as another member of the public followed the boy who walked away to a nearby home.
Police and firefighters attended the scene and extinguished the fire. Officers took the boy to Quakers Hill Police Station and charged him with cause or set fire to property of another person or Crown.
The Vineyard fire was one of several deliberately lit grass fires that threatened parts of Sydney’s west yesterday and forced road closures.
Fires at St Marys and Dunheved have since been extinguished.
With a hot and dry summer expected, police have reactivated a specialist bushfire arson squad as they warned of a possible repeat of Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires.
Strike Force Tronto was launched in 2002 in the wake of the fatal Abernethy bushfire that killed Sydney businessman Ronald Gillett.
Detectives attached to the strike force will focus specifically on incidents that cause loss of life, serious injury, or damage to property.
Police Property Crime Squad Acting Commander Ian McNab said the strike force would employ a range of overt and covert strategies to catch arsonists.
More than 3000 bush and grass fires have been recorded across the state so far this spring.