Emergency warnings are currently in place for two bushfires burning in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, as emergency services prepare to defend areas under threat. The fire service expects the out of control fire to impact properties as they advise residents of the Salt Ash area, just north of Newcastle, to evacuate and seek shelter. With wind gusts of up to 85km/h propelling the fires the RFS has warned it could reach residential homes by 5 p.m. AEST. Firefighters are preparing themselves on the ground with assistance from helicopters and water bombing aircraft on standby.
Erratic fires burn in the Hunter
RFS spokesman has described the fires as ‘erractic’ in his following statement “We are seeing quite erratic fire behaviour … and there are spot fires developing well ahead of that forefront.” The fire has already burnt over 94 hectares of land and emergency telephone alerts have been issued to those living in the area. The second fire – burning 50km west near Kurri Kurri is also spreading fast due to the high winds. It passed by Kurri Kurri hospital moving towards the more populated area of Pelaw Main. RFS spokesman Rolf Pool has stated that extra crews are being brought in to help combat the spreading fires and has warned residents that, “Fire is not at their back doors at this stage but under the current wind conditions that could well happen this afternoon.” People who do not have a bushfire survival plan in place are advised to leave and head north if it is safe to do so.
A perfect storm
In March this year, 69 homes were destroyed and another 39 damaged by a bushfire in the south-coast town of Tahtra NSW. The damage from the bushfire left residents unable to return home as work was being completed to make the area safe again. RFS Deputy Fire Commissioner Rob Rogers described the fires as “a perfect storm” with a combination of strong winds, hot temperatures, low humidity and dry bush.