Kurnell fire contained but set to burn for days

A fire has ripped through more than 350 hectares of thick bush at Kurnell with around 180 firefighters battling the blaze on Sunday night.

The fire broke out in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park and was reported to triple-0 just after 5pm.

Sutherland Shire firefighters quickly responded to the fire which was burning between the desalination plant and the old Carbon Black site.

It spread south along the Yenya Gap Trail and along the eastern boundary of the Caltex terminal into the national park and to the coast.

Overnight a watch and act warning was in place but has since been downgraded to advice as more than 100 firefighters remained on scene on Monday replacing their colleagues who had worked overnight in very difficult conditions.

Sutherland Shire Rural Fire Service (RFS) district manager Superintendent Andrew Pinfold said the fire had, and always had, remained within containment lines.

However, it had a been a unique fire to manage because of the location and the weather conditions.

‘’It has been a very difficult fire to manage because of the wind and the speed,’’ he said.

‘’The weather has caused spot fires which we then have to put out.’’

He said fire trails were used to access the remote site which sat in thick vegetation.

‘’When we’ve been able, we’ve accessed the fire trails and fought the fire directly or through backburning,’’ he said.

‘’We’re doing an area reconnaissance at the moment and will work to extinguish any remaining pockets of fires.’’

He said conditions were particularly dry in the area.

‘’Conditions are dry but the peninsula is unique because the vegetation is basically on a base of sand.

‘’That means the conditions are even dryer and fire behaviour is erratic.’’

He had high praise for the united approach by all emergency services.

‘’It’s been a magnificent effort by all the firefighters and the people behind the scenes,’’ he said.

‘’Not just the firefighters but the National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Police.’’

He said the fire was not impacting directly on major roads but the Kamay Botany Bay National Park would be closed.

‘’This fire will run to the coast and people will continue to see smoke until later this evening,’’ he said.

‘’On Monday we’ll consolidate the containment lines and continue to control the fire over the coming days.’’

He said investigations were continuing into the cause and origin of the fire.

The Leader spoke to incident controller Darren Quandt at the scene on Monday afternoon.

He said the winds were now working in their favour.

‘’The winds have been favourable to us today and its pushing the fire towards the coast,’’ he said.

‘’We have around 80 hectares of unburnt bush between the fire and the coast and that’s where you see the smoke coming from.’’

Bundeena firefighters were joined by their colleagues at Cape Solander later in the day putting our small spot fires by the side of the road.

They took over from some crews who had worked for around 12 hours overnight.

One said the bush was very dry.

Kurnell residents had been spared the smoke because of the wind direction.

Barry Tyte has lived in Kurnell for 29 years and said bushfires in the area weren’t common.

‘’It was Father’s Day so we didn’t really know anything was going on until around 6pm,’’ he said.

‘’We just heard the sirens and they were howling for hours.

‘’My wife got a bit worried at 1am because the southerly wind came up and brought the fire closer.

‘’It was just glowing.

‘’We were looking at it and thought ‘we might have to evacuate’.

‘’There would have been quite a bit of worry for people living up on the hill because that’s the way it was heading.’’


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