AUSTRALIA – AUTHORITIES are investigating whether an arsonist lit a bushfire that has ripped through 350 hectares of land south of Sydney as 100 firefighters continue to battle the first major blaze of the bushfire season burning close to homes.
Residents at Kurnell remain on high alert as a thick plume of smoke from the fire in Botany Bay National Park spread across Sydneys south today, its trail seen from Bondi to Redfern.
Fire investigators are on the scene to determine what caused the blaze, which the RFS says was not caused by a hazard reduction burn.
So it would either be caused accidentally or it was deliberately lit, RFS spokesman James Morris said today.
It would be very disheartening to see there were people in the community who think they need to put people in the communitys lives at risk … it certainly makes it hard, especially in the conditions we had last night – it could have done some serious damage.
Fire chiefs have brought forward the official start of the bushfire season due to the unseasonal warm and dry winter.
The blaze broke out just after 5pm yesterday in inaccessible terrain between the water desalinisation plant and the old Carbon Black site near Sir Joseph Banks Drive.
Firefighters responded after receiving an emergency triple-zero call yesterday. The fire has reportedly ripped through around 50 hectares of land and is now heading in a north easterly direction.
It has crossed Sir Joseph Banks Drive and is burning adjacent to the Caltex Terminal at the national park.
A wind change helped firies early today, driving flames out towards the ocean.
The RFS stress there is currently no threat to the Kurnell community or Greenhills Beach and the fire is being downgraded to an advice level despite it initially being listed as out-of-control.
The fire comes as Sydney experienced high temperatures yesterday during the driest winter in 15 years.
The mercury hit 30 degrees in some Sydney suburbs yesterday including Penrith, Richmond and Sydney Olympic Park, which is seven degrees above average.
High temperatures and high winds yesterday fanned a grass fires at Ashcroft and created hazy conditions.
Fire danger warnings are very high from the north coast to the south coast, including the greater Sydney region.
Strong winds resulted in a number of planned hazard reduction burns being postponed around Sydney.