CREWS and tankers from the Far South Coast Rural Fire Service have gone to support fire fighters in the Blue Mountains as several fire fronts threatened to merge into one.
With hot and windy condition predicted for the coming days, authorities are concerned the Mount Victoria fire, the State Mine fire near Lithgow and the Springwood fire at the base of the Blue Mountains will combine into one 300km fire front that will head towards Sydney’s western suburbs.
Fires in Springwood and Winmalee have already claimed over 200 houses and still remain a threat to residents in that area.
On Sunday, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell signed a Disaster Declaration Order because of the “widespread danger to life and property” and families in the affected areas have been told to prepare to flee or face forced evacuations.
Superintendent John Cullen from the RFS Far South Coast team said the call came on Sunday for back-up from Bega Valley.
RFS brigade captains from stations including Cobargo, Quaama, Numbugga, Bega, Bemboka, Jellat and Candelo were asked to call their volunteer colleagues to see who was available.
Some volunteers are retired, self-employed or farmers, and others have taken a leave of absence with the support of employers to travel to the Blue Mountains.
“The request came on the weekend, as crews are being called in from throughout the state as well as interstate,” Mr Cullen said.
“A team from Cooma-Monaro RFS returned yesterday [Sunday] after several days in the field and a team from the Far South Coast has now gone to help with containment efforts.
“Four tankers and 15 personnel have left from the Bega Valley, they will spend one day travelling and three days in the field,” Mr Cullen said.
“The crews from down here will be working during the day on containment and at night their vehicles will be deployed with other crews on board as tankers are needed around the clock,” Mr Cullen said.
In recent days a haze of smoke has blanketed the Bega Valley, particularly the northern end at Cobargo and Tilba Tilba.
The smoke is from the Buckyjumba fire, which has so far burnt out 650 hectares in the Deua National Park and Dampier State Forest to the west of Narooma.
More than 60 people continued to work in what was expected to be difficult conditions yesterday to try to limit further growth of this fire.
The crews are a mix of Eurobodalla RFS volunteers, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff and workers from the Forestry Corporation.
Mr Cullen said progress was being made and crews were “working on containment”.
“Weather conditions haven’t been ideal, however they have been far more favourable than conditions crews in the Blue Mountains are facing,” he said.