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NSW: Bushfires set to burn for several days

By Miles Godfrey and Kim Christian
Sun Aug 30 16:40:44 EST 2009
Sun Aug 30 06:40:44 UTC 2009

SYDNEY, Aug 30 AAP - Bushfires on the NSW south coast will remain a threat to life and property for at least several days, says the Rural Fire Service (RFS), while firefighters also battle fires on the Central Coast.

The warning follows a dramatic escalation of the bushfire menace with a wind change fanning several blazes on the South Coast and forcing the evacuation of residents and 150 scouts from a caravan park on Saturday night.

As scores of RFS officers continued that battle on several fronts on Sunday with water bombing and backburning, two bushfires flared up on the Central Coast.

RFS Assistant Commissioner Rob Rogers said no houses were under immediate threat from the latest fires in Tomaree National Park, Nelson Bay, which broke out around 1pm (AEST) on Sunday.

But he warned that swirling, unpredictable winds was making it extremely difficult to contain all of the blazes.

"The fires in the south of the state will not be under control any time soon," he told AAP.

"The erratic winds are making things very difficult. We're looking at two or three days at least.

"The Nelson Bay fire is a medium sized one. It is not threatening any home at this stage but it is significant."

In the south, a vacant holiday cottage destroyed near Dolphin Point on Sunday was assessed by fire fighters as the flames approached.

Mr Rogers said nothing could be done to save it because it was surrounded by bush.

Meanwhile, dozens of occupied homes in the area remain under threat.

Coaches evacuated the 150 scouts from a caravan park near Tabourie Lake on Saturday night and they were reunited with parents that evening.

Residents who decided to stay and defend their homes at Dolphin Point and Tabourie Lake described how the fires bore down on them on Sunday afternoon.

Bradley Clark praised the work of firefighters as the flames raced towards his Vista Drive property around 1.30pm on Sunday.

"They came around last night and warned us what was happening," Mr Clark told AAP.

"We made the decision to stay, like most of the people here and (the fire) has come closer. It is much nearer now.

"They are water bombing at the moment and that seems to be containing it pretty well. They are doing a good job.

"There is a lot of support here. The emergency services are supporting us."

Dolphin Point resident Paul Gurrier-Jones, who lives on Seaside Parade, said the fire was very close.

"Fortunately, our property hasn't been threatened yet," he told AAP.

"It was coming up behind us last night and the firefighters were able to get in behind us.

"Some Highview Street and Vista Street residents evacuated last night and today there's been a lot of aerial firebombing."

A resident from Surf Street, Tabourie Lake, who did not want to be named, said smoke filled the sky.

"They've evacuated two caravan parks north of the creek. It's a pretty hairy situation to be honest, quite scary," he said.

Princes Highway has been closed to all traffic at Tabourie Lake.

The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) says northbound motorists can use the Kings Highway and then the Hume Highway.

Southbound motorists can use Picton Road or the Illawarra Highway.