Dangerous times ahead for fire crews

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Fire crews are warning of a dangerous summer ahead after a bushfire in Londonderry and Llandilo threatened homes yesterday, the second major bushfire in just two weeks.

It was too late for residents to evacuate when fire crews arrived at the scene of Castlereagh Nature Reserve, Londonderry just after midday yesterday.

The combination of the hot weather and winds of up to 70 km/h fanned the fire out of control before crews got to the scene.

It took almost 12 hours for firefighters to contain the raging 400 hectare blaze.

Over 250 firefighters were at the scene working to protect over 50 homes that were in close proximity.

There were no reports of damage to homes, except for one shed.

 

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The fire burning out of control late yesterday afternoon directly infront of a resident’s home. Photo: Megan Dunn

24-year-old RFS volunteer Nadia Knox was taken to Nepean Hospital after a tree branch broke off and fell on her shoulder while she was door knocking in the area.

She broke her scapular, a part of the shoulder, but is out of hospital and said to be in good spirits.

Inspector at Rural Fire Service NSW (RFSNSW), Ben Shepherd, told the Weekender crews did extraordinary work yesterday.

“The safest message for residents was to seek shelter and stay indoors while fire crews did amazing work to contain the fire, particularly along Government Road,” he said.

Crews are hopeful that the cooler weather today and the rest of this week will assist them in keeping the situation under control.

“It’s a warning to people of the potential risk of grass fires this year and people in bushfire prone areas need to be prepared,” Inspector Shepherd said.

“We have seen a fair amount of rain over the past couple of days but yesterday highlighted how quickly those conditions can change with the warm air and wind drying out the area quickly enough for a fire to start.”

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Fire crews working to extinguish the fire. Photo: Megan Dunn

 

Londonderry resident, Melanie Rea, was forced to leave her home unattended as she was out at the time the blaze started.

“The fire didn’t leave our mind all day; we were constantly checking and keeping up to date with what was happening,” she said.

“It was really hard but you have to know that they are doing everything to take control of the situation and the best thing you can is to remain calm.

“Seeing so many people on the side of the road and not being able to get to their homes was heart breaking – they didn’t know whether their houses and animals were safe they were just playing it by ear and hoping for the best.”

Ms Rea said if it wasn’t for the hard working firefighters, who knows what might have happened.

“I applaud them for their efforts and how they gained control of it – it would have been hard battling it with the wind, it wouldn’t have been easy,” she said.

The fire is believed to have started on The Northern Road in the Castlereagh Nature Reserve before jumping Llandilo Road.

The firefront was stopped along Government Road and Spence Road with the help of several aircraft, including the whopping water bomber “Thor”.

Police and fire investigators are still working to determine what started the fire.

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