Waterbombing chopper crashes at fire front

 

An RFS contracted emergency chopper has crashed on Jarrah Rd at Girvan near Bulahdelah, 40 kilometres southwest of Forster on Saturday morning.

Firefighters on the ground are working to contain a fire sparked by the helicopter crash.

The pilot and sole occupant of the waterbomber performed a 'hard landing' and was uninjured, according to RFS spokesperson Greg Allen.

"I believe the pilot has been taken to John Hunter hospital," he said."As a state of procedure all aircraft in the area have been grounded".

The waterbomber was working to control a two-hectare fire when it went down.

Firefighters will focus today on a mega fire still burning across 60 kilometres from Colo near the Hawkesbury north to near Singleton, which formed when three fires joined together during yesterday's horror conditions.

The mega fire includes the Gospers Mountain bushfire burning between Newnes and Wisemans Ferry towards Blaxlands Ridge, East Kurrajong, Lower Portland and Central Colo.

The Gospers Mountain fire, which is the size of the Sydney basin, is expected to keep burning for weeks.

Calmer conditions gave only a brief respite to firefighters last night after a harrowing day battling blazes across NSW yesterday.

NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW crews work to protect a property on Kyola Road in Kulnura. Picture: AAP/Dan Himbrechts
NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW crews work to protect a property on Kyola Road in Kulnura. Picture: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

All emergency level fires have been downgraded, however there are still 94 fires that have threatened homes over night with 11 at watch and act level.

Homes on the outskirts of Sydney's south west have been under threat from the out of control Green Wattle Creek bushfire.

Firefighters, locals and waterbombing aircraft were desperately working to protect property around Oakdale, Belimbla Park, Werombi and Orangeville. The fire has this morning been downgraded to watch and act level, but residents aren't out of the woods yet.

In the city's southwest, the bushfire that jumped over the water in the Warragamba Dam eased overnight thanks to a southerly wind change but still threatens homes in Nattair, Orangeville and Werombi.

The Green Wattle Creek fire, which is burning on both sides of Lake Burragorang, is spreading towards Theresa Park and Brownlow Hills, where firefighters are working to defend property and establish containment lines.

Firefighters backburned to the north of the Lake Burragorang fire overnight, near Silverdale and Warrangamba.

Residents in Nattai Village, Oakdale, Belimbla Park, Werombi, Orangeville, Theresa Park, Brownlow Park, Silverdale, Warragamba, The Oaks, Lakesland, Thirlmere, Buxton, Balmoral, Bargo and Hill Top are urged to monitor changing conditions.

Anthony Hayter and his daughters inspecting the damage to his property off Silverdale Rd, Orangeville on Thursday. Picture: Adam Yip
Anthony Hayter and his daughters inspecting the damage to his property off Silverdale Rd, Orangeville on Thursday. Picture: Adam Yip

Firefighters will have a brief window over the weekend to get on top of the crisis before the weather deteriorates early next week.

The Bureau of Meteorology has painted a grim picture for the coming week, with winds forecast to whip dangerous fire grounds and no rain relief in sight.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says residents from the South Coast up the Queensland border are "living in fear".

"The difference now as we lead into the summer months is previously they (bushfires) were pretty much confined to the northern part of NSW but what we are seeing this week is our resources stretched across the entire coastline," she told reporters.

"Our thoughts are with the people who have been displaced and people who are living in fear."

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At one point on Friday there were nine fires burning at an emergency level, including the massive Gospers Mountain blaze, which has merged with neighbouring fire grounds to create a "megafire".


At one point on Friday there were nine fires burning at an emergency level, including the massive Gospers Mountain blaze, which has merged with neighbouring fire grounds to create a "megafire".

Smoke from the fires was drifting to New Zealand and affecting communities there, NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Friday. On Friday night there were 108 fires burning in NSW on Friday afternoon, with 74 of those burning out of control.

680 homes have been lost across NSW since the bushfire season began.

RFS crews protecting a property on Kyola Road in Kulnura as the Three Mile fire approaches Mangrove Mountai. Picture: Dan Himbrechts
RFS crews protecting a property on Kyola Road in Kulnura as the Three Mile fire approaches Mangrove Mountai. Picture: Dan Himbrechts

 

An eerie orange haze settles over Sydney. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
An eerie orange haze settles over Sydney. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

The Gospers Mountain mega blaze is burning dangerously close to three other fires; Three Mile, Wrights Creek and the smaller Thompson Creek blaze.

More than 2000 firefighters are currently on the ground across the state while Canadian and US crews are being briefed and are set to join forces over the weekend.

Firefighters battled through a difficult afternoon yesterday with soaring temperatures and strong westerly winds.

NASA aerial images of bushfire smoke covering the Sydney basin, Newcastle and Wollongong on December 6, 2019. Picture: NASA
NASA aerial images of bushfire smoke covering the Sydney basin, Newcastle and Wollongong on December 6, 2019. Picture: NASA

Premier Berejiklian said fire fronts were creeping dangerously close to large population centres.

"It is another difficult time for our state, conditions are now meeting that we have hotter, drier conditions today compared to yesterday, and that is likely to continue for parts of next week," she said.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned of "a long road ahead" with hotter conditions set for the weeks and months ahead and rainfall holding off until January.

Homeowner Rod Meggs puts out spot fires in Kulnura. Picture: Dan Himbrechts
Homeowner Rod Meggs puts out spot fires in Kulnura. Picture: Dan Himbrechts

A total fire ban has been issued for Saturday that affects the Far North Coast, Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney, Central Ranges, New England, Northern Slopes and North Western areas of NSW.

MAJOR NSW FIRES

GOSPERS MOUNTAIN

The massive Gospers Mountain "mega fire" raging near Sydney's northwestern outskirts has been downgraded to watch and act after burning at emergency level for most of Friday.

The blaze is razing over 280,000ha and is in control, however it is going to take "many weeks" to put out, the NSW Rural Fire Service says.

Firefighters are concerned the Gospers blaze, which has merged with neighbouring fires, could start burning towards Gosford.

"The total area burnt by these fires is around 335,000 hectares," the RFS said in a statement on Friday evening.

"These will take many weeks to put out - and only when we get good rain." Hawkesbury City Council deputy mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett says the blazes can only be described as a "mega fire".

NSW Rural Fire Service crews protect properties on Kellyknack Road as the Three Mile fire approaches Mangrove Mountain north of Sydney on Thursday, December 5. Picture: AAP
NSW Rural Fire Service crews protect properties on Kellyknack Road as the Three Mile fire approaches Mangrove Mountain north of Sydney on Thursday, December 5. Picture: AAP

GREEN WATTLE CREEK

The Green Wattle Creek fire, 15km southwest of Warragamba Dam Wall in Wollondilly Shire is out of control, burning on both sides of Lake Burragorang.

Firefighters worked tirelessly to protect homes has the flames scorched more than 54,000ha of land.

Among yesterday's devastation, three RFS firefighters were injured while battling the blaze at Wattle Creek, near Wollondilly, with two men suffering burns to their hands and another burns to his neck.

They had to be flown out of the firefront for treatment but are expected to recover.

CURROWAN

In Shoalhaven, the Currowan fire is burning between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla out of control through more than 74,000ha of land.

The fire was burning at emergency level for most of Friday, however conditions have eased and the blaze has been downgraded to advice level.

A number of homes have been destroyed in the fire.

The fire has spread quickly towards Bawley Point, Lake Tabourie and west of the Princes Highway, which is now closed.

Firefighters are conducting back-burns in the area causing smoky conditions today, and Kioloa, Pretty Beach, Pebbly Beach, Depot Beach and Durras North are still affected by the fire.

THREE MILE

The Three Mile fire in the Hawkesbury is burning out of control at watch and act level after merging with the Wright Creek fire.

Crews have serious concerns about the "erratic" behaviour of the 16,000ha fire after hot, dry and windy weather conditions Friday afternoon.

The fire is burning in the Yengo and Dharug national parks between Lower Macdonald and Mangrove Mountain, where crews are working to protect properties in the area.

Locals should implement their bushfire survival plan, particularly in the areas of Kalnura, Lower Mangrove, Greengrove, Mangrove Creek and Mangrove Mountain, and should leave early if they are not prepared.

The RFS believe that a number of homes have been destroyed in the area.

LITTLE L COMPLEX

The Little L fire in Singleton has razed more than 47,000ha and is still burning out of control despite being downgraded to watch and act yesterday afternoon.

The fire is burning near Yengo Creek Road and may impact areas around Wollombi, Laguna and Congewai. The Crumps Road fire is also fire burning to the east of the Yengo National Park.

Residents in the area of Paynes Crossing, Wollombi and Laguna are urged to monitor conditions.

KERRY RIDGE

Burning out of control near Muswellbrook, the Kerry Ridge fire is located just north of the Gospers Mountain mega blaze.

It has razed 23,000ha in a remote area of the Wollemi National Park, north of Putty and is spreading quickly towards Gum Tree Hole and the Paddock Run fire.

RFS advises residents in Gum Tree that they are at risk.

MEADS CREEK WEST

This fire, which has burned 9,500ha, is being controlled in the Goulburn River National Park, south west of Merriwa in the Upper Hunter.

Fire activity has eased overnight and the fire has been downgraded to advice level.

CARRAI CREEK

The Carrai Creek fire is burning north west of Kempsey and is more than 226,700ha in size.

The fire has crossed the Styx River.

Residents in Taylors Arm Rd, Hickeys Creek Dungay, Boonanghu, Wittitrin, Five Day Creek or Eight Mile Creek Rd are urged to monitor conditions.

Firefighters are controlling the blaze and are undertaking backburning operations where conditions allow.

Apocolyptic skies on the NSW South Coast where firefighters worked desperately to save homes as the large fire approached Bawley Point. Picture Gary Ramage
Apocolyptic skies on the NSW South Coast where firefighters worked desperately to save homes as the large fire approached Bawley Point. Picture Gary Ramage

BANGALA CREEK

The Bangala Creek fire in northern NSW near Tenterfield, is burning out of control through the Cataract National Park and may threaten homes in Paddys Flat and Pretty Gully.

The blaze is burning over 10,000ha and is currently on advice level.

Spot fires have been starting ahead of the main fire front and hot and windy weather is increasing fire activity.

Those in Paddys Flat, Currawinya, Bonalbo, Old Bonalbo, Duck Creek and Bottle Creek are urged to stay vigilant.

KALOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL

The Kaloe Mountain Trail fire is burning about 50km west of Grafton at a size of 112,000ha.

The fire has crossed the Gwydir Highway at Purgatory Creek Rd and is being controlled by RFS crews.

Those in Jackadgery Gap, Cangai, Jackadgery and along Gorge Road East of the Grange State Forest are told to monitor conditions.

PADDOCK RUN

The Paddock Run fire is burning west of Garland Valley and the Howes Valley near Singleton. It is 14,000ha in size and out of control at watch and act after being downgraded Friday afternoon.

Just before midday yesterday Paddock Run merged with Little L Complex and Gospers Mountain.

Firefighters face huge flames at Bawley Point, on the NSW south coast. Picture Gary Ramage
Firefighters face huge flames at Bawley Point, on the NSW south coast. Picture Gary Ramage

 

Fire crews at the scene of the Green Wattle Creek Fire which caused many residents in suburbs nearby a sleepless night on Thursday.
Fire crews at the scene of the Green Wattle Creek Fire which caused many residents in suburbs nearby a sleepless night on Thursday.

 

A shed is seen destroyed by fire at a property on Kyola Road in Kulnura. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
A shed is seen destroyed by fire at a property on Kyola Road in Kulnura. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
NASA images show bushfire smoke blowing from the NSW coast over the Pacific Ocean on December 6, 2019. Picture: NASA
NASA images show bushfire smoke blowing from the NSW coast over the Pacific Ocean on December 6, 2019. Picture: NASA
Eight bushfires are at an emergency level this afternoon. Picture: Gary Ramage
Eight bushfires are at an emergency level this afternoon. Picture: Gary Ramage
NASA aerial images showing a typical sunny day in Sydney without bushfire smoke on June 6, 2019. Picture: NASA
NASA aerial images showing a typical sunny day in Sydney without bushfire smoke on June 6, 2019. Picture: NASA
Bawley Point RFS captain Dave Sharpe (Red Helmet) was overcome with emotion as his colleagues helped him extinguish a blaze surrounding his home. Picture: Gary Ramage
Bawley Point RFS captain Dave Sharpe (Red Helmet) was overcome with emotion as his colleagues helped him extinguish a blaze surrounding his home. Picture: Gary Ramage
The Currowan fire continues to threaten homes. Picture Gary Ramage
The Currowan fire continues to threaten homes. Picture Gary Ramage
The North Black Range fire near Braidwood, Queanbeyan area, on December 5 Picture: NSW RFS
The North Black Range fire near Braidwood, Queanbeyan area, on December 5 Picture: NSW RFS

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