Still battling Bushfires

Australia:  Crews still battling fires as emergency nears end

14 January 2002

Source and Copyright: ABC News Online

Efforts have continued today to try and containthe large bushfire in the Morton National Park on the New South Wales south coast. It is one of about 50 fires still burning in the state, 10 of which are still uncontained.The Morton fire was continually water-bombed today as was the blaze burning in rugged country on the state’s far-south coast near Moruya.The New South Wales Rural Fire Service’s Cameron Wade says progress has been madein fighting the bushfires on the north coast. “Certainly on the north coast, some good news there, with the weather conditions firecrews have been able to put containment lines around the fires especially up near Evans Head and also in Coffs Harbour or west of Coffs Harbour,” he said.”These fires will continue to burn also into the coming days at this stage though it is apositive outcome looking like those containment lines will actually hold.” 
A large area of grass has been burnt in a fire at Cranebrook on Sydney’s westernoutskirts. Crews from the New South Wales Fire Brigade and the Rural Fire Service (RFS)responded to the 20-hectare blaze at about 4:00pm today. Superintendent Murray Kears says the fire has been largely contained but there is stillconcern for nearby homes. “The properties are right on the fringe so in essence they are at threat,” he said. “We do have units that are standing by at each of these properties in propertyprotection mode, just to prevent any spot fires that may be passed on by the grass fire.”But although there has been a report of one derelict building in the vicinity damagedby fire no other properties have been damaged at this stage.” 
Official end 
The emergency declaration covering fires in the southern highlands and the Illawarrawas lifted at 5:00pm today. Fire authorities will continue to monitor the situation around the Nattai and Cordeauxfires in particular, but there is no longer an active fire front to battle. Kel Lambkin, from the Wollondilly Fire Control, says many of the Rural Fire Service(RFS) personnel will finally be allowed to go home. “National Parks and Wildlife Service and Sydney Catchment fire authorities will beworking on the fires and we can call on the resources of RFS…if needed,” he said.The RFS says it could be several days before an official end to the bushfire emergencycan be declared. Residents to the north of the Double Duke State Forest west of Evans Head on the farnorth coast are on alert, with crews working to extinguish several spot fires thismorning.  About 10 blazes are still uncontained including large fires in the Shoalhaven andEurobodalla on the south coast and near Taree and Walcha in the north of the state.
Anderson coy on air-crane funding
The acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, says the purchase of an air-crane to fightbushfires in Australia needs to be looked at carefully with the states before any fundingis committed. This follows comments from the RFS commissioner Phil Koperberg that purchasing oneof three Ericksons currently in use in the state may not be the best option. Mr Anderson says the Federal Government is looking at some proposals to developaustralia-based fire fighting options. “We’ll have a couple of Australian firms call in and say well they can offer similartechnology made right here in Oz; we ought to check those claims out,” he said. “Obviously that sort of technical capability if we can muster it up will be extremelyuseful as it’s been proven this time.”
Man in court
A 47-year-old man from Narrabeen, on Sydney’s northern beaches, has appeared inBowral Local Court on two fire-related offences. Gregory Davidson was arrested by Bowral police yesterday and charged with causingmalicious damage by fire and lighting a fire without authority. A statement from a camper in the Penrose State Forest, where the fire occurred, wastended to the court. Davidson was refused bail and will reappear in court on January 24.
ACT arson
A third youth has been charged in relation to a grass fire in Canberra last week.On Friday two other youths aged 12 and 15 were charged over the fire on Mt Ainslie. Police say they have now charged another 15-year-old youth over the incident, who isexpected to appear in the ACT children’s court later today.


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