A major fire emergency is underway tonight after a fire that started in Springwood this afternoon jumped the Nepean River and started to burn at Castlereagh.
There have been dramatic scenes in the local area throughout the afternoon, with huge plumes of smoke visible from across the Penrith LGA and extensive traffic delays on main roads like Mulgoa Road and Castlereagh Road.
Castlereagh Road has been closed to northbound traffic at Cranebrook Road.
Winmalee and Springwood have been the worst affected by the fire with reports of multiple homes lost.
The Rural Fire Service has advised residents in the Springwood, Yellow Rock, Winmalee, Emu Heights, Mt Riverview and Castlereagh areas to take shelter and protect themselves from the radiant heat.
The Nepean Aquatic Centre is amongst the local businesses that have been evacuated.
There have been no reports of property being lost in Castlereagh and no reports of casualties in the fire emergency.
Fire crews from right across Sydney and beyond – including the ACT – have been dispatched to help fight the Springwood blaze.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the emergency would not be over quickly and it would take “some days” before the fires were out.
“I suspect if we get through that without the loss of life, we should thank God for miracles,” he said.
Students from St Columba’s Springwood, St Thomas Aquinas Primary and Ellison Primary are safe and accounted for. NSW Police will escort students on buses to Springwood Sports Club.
With multiple fires in the area, please postpone non-essential travel to keep the roads clear for firefighters.
Continue to stay up to date with the bush fire situation by checking http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, listening to your local radio station or by calling the NSW RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.
If you live in the area but are away from home, it may not be safe to return to your property.
The Public Information and Inquiry Centre (PIIC), has been opened to assist members of the public in relation to bushfire information.
The telephone number to call is 1800 227 228.
Members of the public are reminded to delay all non-essential travel in fire affected areas and to monitor emergency websites for updated advice and warnings.