Bushfire warning issued for shire suburbs as blaze jumps Heathcote Road

UPDATE, SUNDAY 9AM: 

A bush fire that threatened homes in Sydney’s south west has eased on Sunday morning, though authorities are cautioning residents to remain vigilant.

The Rural Fire Service has downgraded the threat level for the fire, which is travelling north-east toward Sandy Point and Alfords Point.

Nevertheless, residents in suburbs Illawong, Bangor and Picnic Point are continuing to experience ember attacks, and are advised to monitor for spot fires.

NSW Police had earlier speculated that a grass fire in the area, to which emergency services were first alerted at 2.45pm on Saturday, may have been deliberately lit.

Fire fighters remain in place around Wattle Grove, the Holsworthy military complex, Voyager Point, Menai, Barden Ridge and Pleasure Point.

Heathcote Road is closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

Police from Liverpool Police Area Command said they were appealing for witnesses in relation to an out-of-control grass fire that started on Saturday afternoon in the vicinity of Leacocks Reserve, Casula.

That fire had spread through Moorebank, Wattle Grove, Holsworthy. 

A crime scene has been established.

UPDATE, SUNDAY, 12.40AM

The NSW Rural Fire Service advises it currently has 500 firefighters working on the fire burning near Menai and Holsworthy.

UPDATE, SUNDAY, 12.10AM

National Parks and Wildlife Service advise that Heathcote National Park and the south side of Georges River National Park will be closed Sunday April 15 due to the fire.

UPDATE, SATURDAY, 11.40PM

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has released a statement on the current bushfire emergency: 

“ANSTO always works with local emergency services, and the Rural Fire Service has advised no risk to ANSTO as a result of the fires in the vicinity of our Lucas Heights campus.

“ANSTO will continue to take the advice of emergency services throughout the evening and over the weekend.

“As a precautionary measure, the ANSTO Operations Centre has been activated, and is actively monitoring the situation. Non-essential staff have left the site.

“ANSTO infrastructure including the OPAL reactor is protected by numerous fire safety systems, policies, plans and arrangements to ensure there is never any risk to operations or safety.”

UPDATE 11.15

The latest linescan image from NSW RFS.

The fire has impacted Ferrier Drive, Penrose Place, Rosewall Drive, Kippax Place, Meckiff Close and McKenzie Place at Menai.

There have been no reports of property loss at this stage. 

Picture: Nswrfs

Picture: Nswrfs

UPDATE

Residents in Illawong and Bangor are experiencing ember attack and should implement their bush fire survival plan now.

Residents in Illawong and Bangor are experiencing ember attack and should implement their bush fire survival plan now.

The fast moving bush fire is travelling in a south easterly direction, towards Alfords Point Road at Menai.

Residents in the area of Alfords Point, Menai, and Barden Ridge and Sandy Point should seek shelter as the fire front approaches and protect yourself from the heat of the fire. It is now too late to leave.

Fire fighters are in these areas and are in place to undertake property protection as required.

Heathcote Road is now closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

EARLIER

A fire which has been raging in Sydney’s south-west is moving towards the suburbs of Alfrods Point, Menai and Barden Ridge.

The fire, which has caused hundreds of people to evacuate their homes, may have been deliberately lit, police say.

An emergency warning has been issued for the fire which has been burning in Wattle Grove and is now moving in a south easterly direction.

The Rural Fire Service on Saturday night said the fire had crossed Heathcote Road and was moving towards Sutherland Shire suburbs.

Heathcote Road is now closed between Macarthur Drive and New Illawarra Road.

WHAT WE KNOW

  • More than 140 firefighters have been fighting the out-of-control blaze.
  • More than 40 Rural Fire Service trucks and approximately 50 FRNSW fire trucks from across Sydney, Central Coast and Illawarra are fighting the fire with many of the trucks lined up along Heathcote Road as a "last line of defence".
  • Around 7.30pm, the blaze spread across the Heathcote Road heading east into residential areas, threatening hundreds of homes and a public school.
  • An official warning was issued to people in Menai and surrounding areas to evacuate as a safety precaution. 
  • All residents have been advised to follow the direction of emergency services.

"Residents in Illawong and Bangor will be starting to see smoke and embers as a result of this fire," the RFS said.

"People should continue to monitor the situation and activate their bush fire survival plan."

Residents in Illawong and Bangor are being advised to seek shelter as the fire front approaches and protect themselves from the fire.

It is now too late to leave. Firefighters are in these areas ready to undertake property protection.

Residents that have evacuated are advised an evacuation centre is currently being set up at Gymea Tradies - 57 Manchester Road, Gymea.

Emergency services were first alerted to the blaze at about 2.45pm on Saturday, Inspector Mitch Newtown, duty officer at Liverpool police station said.

‘‘We believe it might have been a deliberately lit fire,’’ Inspector Newtown said.

‘‘We want to turn our focus to the investigation once the welfare of the people is taken care of.’’

Insp Newtown said police were called to a few spot fires at about 10pm on Friday in Casula, which may have also been deliberately lit.

‘‘It’s a possibility today’s fire has been some of those spot fires reignited,’’ he said.

Police are hoping residents can return home on Saturday night, but emergency accommodation forms are also being distributed at the evacuation centre.

Heathcote Road has been closed and buses are replacing trains between East Hills and Glenfied on the T8 airport and south line, with the Transport Management Centre telling people to allow plenty of additional travel time and to check indicator boards.